RWTH Working To Bring Electric Delivery Vans To Market

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With 42,000 students, the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, otherwise known as RWTH University, is the largest technical school in Germany. It is the birthplace of the StreetScooter — a small electric urban delivery vehicle that became the basis of Deutsche Post’s standalone electric truck division. It has also spawned e.Go, another startup that plans to bring affordable electric urban cars to market this year.

RWTH LiVe 1 electric truck

Last month, RWTH’s Production Technology for Electromobility Components (PEM) sector introduced what it calls a “primotype” of a new modular electric delivery van with a 7.5 ton capacity. Designated the LiVe 1, it is based on a conventional Isuzu truck chassis with an electric drivetrain engineered by the PEM team in just 13 months. A “primotype” is a precursor to an actual prototype according to professor Achim Kampker. He was one of the co-founders of StreetScooter, the company that was later purchased by Deutsche Post.

Chief engineer Johannes Triebs and project manager Gerret Lukas emphasis their primary goal is to create new products in a short period of time using an agile and flexible approach. The key to the LiVe 1 is a modular powertrain that can meet the needs of a wide variety of customers.

The battery pack can be as little as 20 kWh, and up to a maximum of 200 kWh. The individual cells in the each battery pack can be replaced as needed instead of discarding an entire pack. The delivery trucks use an electric drive axle provided by BPW.

The focus of the LiVe 1 project is to  achieve a “life cycle cost reduction in electric distribution by individually adaptable powertrain.” It will offer future customers the opportunity to specify precisely what attributes they need for their vehicles. That fully customizable approach is expected to appeal strongly to potential buyers,

Electric delivery trucks are an important part of the electric vehicle revolution. Each one will keep up to 6 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year thanks to replacing the traditional diesel engine with an electric motor. In addition to powering the rear wheels, the electric powertrain has to provide such ancillary services as power steering, heat and air conditioning, and a compressor for the air brakes.

In addition to a battery only powertrain, the team is evaluating hydrogen fuel cell systems. It expects the first production vehicles to be available in the spring of 2020.

Hat tip to CleanTechnica reader Heinbloed.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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