FUTURE FLEET FORUM
A push for electric trucks COME ALONG TO FUTURE FLEET FORUM 2018 TO SEE THE NEW FULLY-ELECTRIC 26-TONNE REFUSE COLLECTION VEHICLE CALLED ELECTRA. ELECTRA COMMERCIAL VEHICLES WAS SET UP BY NRG'S SID SADIQUE AND RUSSSELL MARKSTEIN. THEY TELL ANN-MARIE KNEGT ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS NEW LAUNCH.
Electra has its own on-board charger, so it is simply a case of plugging it into any three-phase socket.
n 7 November 2017 in a quiet corner at the Freight in the City Expo one of the most significant yet understated new vehicle launches took place. There was no fanfare, no swishing of curtains, no dry ice, no announcement and no prepublicity, just a chassis cab and a couple of familiar faces – Sid Sadique and Russell Markstein, the chairman and commercial director at NRG Fleet Services. The chassis on display was a 26-tonne Mercedes Econic (with a different badge on the grill). The significance? It was 100% electrically powered. No engine, no gearbox, no AdBlue tank, no exhaust and no fuel tank. Just an electric motor and a bank of batteries neatly fitted to either side of the chassis rails. Where did this vehicle come from? The company behind it is called Electra Commercial Vehicles and it is the brainchild of Sid Sadique and his colleagues at NRG. It was formed specifically to push electric vehicle products into the market, all with the backup of the NRG group of companies. Electra has opened doors with manufacturers to collaborate in the development of EV technology, and this has proved invaluable – this kind of support is something that many other EV companies have struggled with. As Sid points out, the fact that NRG is a key partner to all the big truck manufacturers has given the new company access to decision makers and made Electra’s journey so much easier. LAPV spoke to Sid early in 2017 and he stated then that he was looking at a battery-powered project. A few months later, the finished product has had its first public viewing and will also be on display at Future Fleet Forum in London in January 2018. Sid explains that Electra has concentrated its efforts on bringing to market electric versions of vehicles that work in city centres and have the highest environmental impact. Emissions and noise pollution are top of the list of issues for transport managers and vehicle operators, and in the long run, diesel will be banned from city centres. Electra has prioritised low-entry chassis units such as the Econic from Mercedes Benz and the Dennis Eagle Elite, as these are usually the chassis of choice for delivery operators in the city, particularly with the additional challenges of the Direct Vision Standard in London. The chassis on display at the Freight in the City Expo will be fitted with a Geesinknorba refuse body. A Dennis Elite narrow chassis is
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currently being converted and this will have an Olympus narrow body. Both will be fitted with Terberg bin lifts. NRG commercial director Russell Markstein explains that a refuse collection application is a power-hungry and battery-demanding process, with the stop/start drive, a sweep plate cycling, a packer plate moving, and a bin lift lifting up to 1,500 bins. The 26-tonne Electra in this configuration will provide nine hours of operation or a range of 250km on a single charge. Depending on the power available at a depot, charging from empty to full can take as little as four hours and can certainly be completed overnight. There is no need for special charging points, however, as the Electra has its own on-board charger, so it is simply a case of plugging it into any three-phase socket. The in-built Battery Management System is a computer-controlled charging and discharge system. It uses telemetry to monitor and control each battery cell, array and cassette, making sure the cell is working to its optimal capacity. The system incorporates solid state, liquid-cooled controllers and switch gear. The on-board battery charging system allows variable power inputs and controls each battery cell, ensuring optimal charging. The Electra drive system uses the proven heavy-duty technology of permanent magnet motors. These motors have years of endurance work on trams and trains behind them. The vehicle application uses standard gearbox mounts and connections to the prop shaft. The permanent magnet drive motors are liquid-cooled,