Is it possible to establish a platform for electrically powered commercial vehicles away from the major car manufacturers and their value chains?
This is exactly what was attempted in the “EMPA-Trac” project (stands for “Electric Modular Platform Architecture – Tractor”), which was funded by the Climate and Energy Fund as part of the “Lighthouses of Electromobility” call for proposals. Under the leadership of Adolf Tobias GesmbH, which specializes in agricultural machinery technology, and with the support of the electric mobility initiative “e-mobil in Niederösterreich”, specialists in special vehicle construction, electric drive technology, battery technology and vehicle registration came together and developed a technology platform for simple, robust vehicles such as those used in agriculture, forestry, hunting and in the municipal sector. The high degree of customization of such vehicles was taken into consideration, with care also being taken to ensure that the largest possible number of common components and, where possible, existing supplier parts from the automotive industry can be used for different designs. A group from TÜV supported the project team in determining the properties that municipal users would expect from such a vehicle.
The tasks to be solved included the design of the battery and the design of an associated cooling system. In addition, the components required for the drive train (motors, controllers, vehicle control unit) had to be developed. A sophisticated communication system ensures the interaction between the drive and the battery system so that both technical safety and operational safety are guaranteed. In all of these development steps, it was important to ensure that the budget for a commercial vehicle in this area of application was not exceeded.
As a result of the project, a prototype was created that was then subjected to an extensive test phase. In-house developments made of steel were used for the chassis and driver’s cab. A complex all-wheel drive system was chosen for the drive train, taking into consideration a wide variety of possible driving situations.
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