SPECIAL REPORT 3/3. Transitional fuels have entered the energy mix, with the arrival of B100 Biodiesel in France and the emergence of a seriously expanding choice of electric trucks. Overview of the manufacturers' product range.
Renault Trucks is betting on alternative Diesel fuels, with a range that is fully HVO/XTL compatible. Numerous vehicles are compatible with B100 biodiesel, along with a range of biodiesel-restricted models. A gas model (CNG) is offered in the catalogue with the D Wide in 19t or 26t versions but the cursor is clearly positioned on electric motors, with the commercialisation for some years now of the 16t electric D rigid trucks (range announced of 400 km) and the 26t D Wide (range of 120 km).
The manufacturer announced that it had delivered 249 electric trucks last year and taken orders for 613 of them in Europe. In the first quarter of 2023, the French manufacturer will launch its heavy-duty battery-powered models, T E-Tech and C E-Tech, dedicated to regional transport of loads up to 44 t and construction activities. The trucks will be able to travel up to 300 km on a single charge and up to 500 km with one-hour intermediate fast charging (250 kW).
Like its French cousin, Volvo Trucks was among the first manufacturers to commit to B100, either flexible or irreversible. XTL-approved models are offered throughout its range. The manufacturer also offers a CNG choice on a 19t FE model and LNG for FM and FH long-haul trucks. Here again, the ambitions are mostly electric. In addition to the FL and FE models, on the market for 2 years and produced in Blainville by Renault Trucks, the Swedish manufacturer now completes the offer on its heavy range with the FM, and its FMX construction industry version, for which the series production has just started in Sweden, as well as its long-haul FH model (up to 300 km range).
The manufacturer is working on a new axle for electric trucks since it integrates the electric motor and transmission, this frees up space to install more batteries (a preferred solution for Mercedes and its future eActros). This will increase the autonomy of trucks aimed at long haul use. The first customer tests are scheduled for 2025, as are those of the future fuel cell trucks under development.
MAN offers XTL/HVO-compatibility across its entire range of trucks and also includes models with a D26 engine (MAN TGX and MAN TGS) which are also approved for B100-compatibility or B100-exclusive. "In 2021, MAN generated 10 percent of its sales with biofuel trucks. In 2022, this trend is confirmed and is even expected to continue to progress, in particular thanks to obtaining B1 homologation. Similarly, we are seeing an upward trend regarding the non-exclusive B100 retrofit of our vehicles," says the Bavarian manufacturer.
The IAA trade show was the occasion for the manufacturer to present a prototype of its eTruck long-distance electric tractor unit intended to roll off the production line in 2024, with a first short-term delivery of 200 units. It is advertised with an (impressive) range of 600 to 800 km, thanks to batteries produced in-house in its factory in Nuremberg. It comes in addition to the eTGM (26t, 200 km range), already marketed since 2018.
The manufacturer is also working on hydrogen mobility but its CEO, Alexander Vlaskamp, does not foresee commercialisation before the end of the decade.
Scania currently offers full compatibility of its range with HVO and partial compatibility with B100, with ongoing homologation for irreversibility. The manufacturer has not forgotten ethanol fuel, used by vehicles with identical engineering to diesel: "this is still a niche market that could grow if pressure on CNG and other fuels continues," says Gilles Baustert, marketing director of Scania France.
Despite being committed to CNG and LNG, Scania has not forgotten the electric mode, which should constitute 50% of its sales in 2030. The manufacturer already delivers electric rigid trucks for urban use (up to 26t and 250 km of autonomy). It will be necessary to wait until the end of 2023 to see the start of production of the first tractors and rigid trucks dedicated to long-distance regional transport. Scania announces a range of 350 km for a 4×2 tractor with six batteries, at an average speed of 80 km/h on the motorway. It should be noted that the Swedish manufacturer is the only one to offer a plug-in hybrid diesel/electric rigid truck, the P280, offering 60 km of autonomy in zero-emission mode (GVW 36t).
The manufacturer, which predicts that in 2030 half of its sales will still be diesel-powered in Europe, is promoting XTL, a second-generation biofuel. Daimler Truck is working on the homologation of a dedicated sensor that would guarantee exclusive XTL. "Many customers who drive XTL do not notice any difference in terms of consumption. XTL fuel also has the advantage of not requiring any modifications to the trucks, the same applies to maintenance," says Daimler Trucks. On the other hand, the manufacturer is disregarding B100 fuel.
It will take a few more months for the series production of electric models in the medium and heavy ranges to start. The eActros will go into production in the second half of 2023 in its 300 km version, and the following year in its LongHaul version (500 km on a single charge for 40t). The eAtego (7.5t to 18t) will go into production in H2 2023. The manufacturer also recently presented the second version of its small rigid truck eCanter, developed by its Japanese subsidiary Fuso, which has a range of up to 200 km (production in 2023) in weight categories ranging from 4.25 tons to 8.55 tons.
The start of series production of hydrogen trucks is planned for the second half of the decade, based on liquid hydrogen that boosts the range (1,000 km with a full tank).
At the last IAA trade show held at the end of September 2022 in Hanover, the manufacturer Iveco, associated with the US company Nikola, started taking orders for the Nikola Tre in a 4x2 tractor version in Europe, whose platform is based on the S-Way. This 100% electric vehicle has 9 batteries with a total energy storage capacity of up to 738 kWh, which offers a range of about 500 km. Charging takes 162 minutes (when charging to 175 kW). A hydrogen version is expected for 2024, with a range of 800 km.
Iveco offers an XTL choice across its entire range and is studying the possibility of adapting certain vehicles to B100 fuel. Historically committed to gas, the transalpine manufacturer considers that in 2030, 30% of trucks over 19t will run on bioNGV in Europe, 30% on electric (BEV and FCEV), 40% on diesel (including XTL/B100).
To ensure the energy transition, DAF is focusing on HVO, as its range is fully compatible with XTL, a fuel that has long been used in the Benelux. However, the Dutch manufacturer has not chosen B100 compatibility.
In September 2022, DAF presented the new DAF XD and XF Electric, which are scheduled for delivery in 2023. These trucks are equipped with a new modular powertrain to cover distances of 200 to 500 kilometres on a single charge, with outputs ranging from 170 to 350 kW (230 to 480 hp).
Ford Trucks is currently focusing on the launch of its F-Max long-haul range, 100% Diesel, whilst at the same time working on XTL compatibility of its models (the B100 option is excluded).
At the last IAA trade show, the American manufacturer unveiled its first electric truck, in a refuse collection version, called "Generation F". The manufacturer has remained discreet about the marketing date and autonomy of the vehicle, which will have a payload of 18 to 26 tons.