The race to electrify long haul trucking, as well as other heavy cargo carriers, is really starting to heat up, and although we’re all waiting for Musk to blow our minds clean out of our skulls with the Tesla semi reveal, there are other contenders already lining up with their solutions for clean transport. Cummins has unveiled its electric Class 7 prototype, Chanje has seen its electric trucks ordered by the likes of Ryder, Nikola Motor Company has released some details of its Class 8 hydrogen-electric truck. Heck, even dairy farmers are getting into building electric trucks, powered by manure, as befits the industry.
But we may have to wait for a bit for production electric big rigs to hit the market, and even once those electric trucks begin to see service, there will still be millions of other semi trucks — both existing and new models — on the road that are strictly diesel, with no clear path to cleaning up their footprints. However, Hyliion, a Pittsburgh-based company, has two solutions that could help save fuel and reduce emissions from long haul trucks.
Hyliion is described as a “Class 8 vehicle hybridizing company,” and its two products are said to deliver up a significant savings in fuel and emissions, and are claimed to “instantly” convert a tractor or a trailer into an “intelligent” hybrid electric vehicle.
The trailer solution, which was unveiled last year, essentially added an electric drive system, battery, and auxiliary power unit (APU) to the rear end of a trailer, and the product was met with interest by fleet operators, leading to the development of a truck-based system.
“After our trailer product announcement last year, fleets came to us and asked to have the technology put on trucks. We listened and focused our efforts to first deliver the 6X4HE System with an innovative APU. The technology we designed into the trailer product plus a different approach to an APU is now available for Class 8 trucks.” – Thomas Healy, Hyliion CEO
The tractor solution adds a battery that also functions as an APU to allow for an “idle-free” (and hence fuel- and emissions-saving) experience, while the intelligent hybrid design is said to read “the topography of your route and determine when to generate and apply power for optimal fuel savings.” When combined with an aerodynamics package to “significantly” reduce air resistance, as well as the regenerative braking feature, the Hyliion 6X4HE System is said to lead to a 30% fuel savings.
“The average truck uses 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year while idling at rest stops. That equates to about 13.5% of a long-haul truck’s total fuel consumption. Stop wasting fuel and use the Hyliion idle-free, all-electric APU. Our non-parasitic design leverages our hybrid technology and can power the truck cab for up to 10 hours.” – Hyliion
The company is now taking orders for the 6X4HE System, which is expected to begin production this month.