One of the most common sights on the road and highways is an 18-wheel truck. These large, loud vehicles consist of two main parts: the tractor, where the driver sits and which does the pulling, and the trailer, where the cargo is stored.
To address the significant emissions from this segment of the transportation sector, some companies are working on electric tractors that can pull trailers. But Range Energy, a relatively new company, is taking a different approach: it is designing a powered trailer that has its own batteries, motor, and other smart features. The trailer can be paired with any electric or diesel-powered cab, effectively turning any semi into an efficient hybrid.
Range Energy’s RA-01 trailer comes with its own 200 kWh battery and an 800-volt e-axle powertrain. The powertrain can deliver up to 14,000 Nm of torque at up to 350 kW (469 hp) to the rear wheels.
The trailer is perfectly suitable for fleet operations without any modification to the trucks. It uses a smart kingpin, which detects the acceleration and braking forces that the cab applies to the trailer and responds with its electric motors accordingly. The motors add torque instantly and proportionally when the cab accelerates and pulls on the kingpin. When the cab brakes, the trailer kicks in with some regenerative braking.
The recent fuel economy testing conducted by Mesilla Valley Transportation Solutions (MVTS) demonstrates meaningful progress towards rapidly reducing the emissions of the commercial trucking sector.
The test results show its technology enables up to 36.9% fuel efficiency gains for semi-trucks. Testing was conducted on a 25.5-mile urban or highway loop at approximately 59,000 lbs (26,760 kg) gross vehicle weight and 60 mph (96.5 km/h) top speeds across multiple scenarios, including stop/go and steady-speed portions.
“Achieving 36.3 percent efficiency improvements proves to the trucking industry how important and overlooked trailers are to enhancing efficiency and lowering emissions for our industry. Range is the first electrification platform to actually prove this level of efficiency benefit, and we anticipate these numbers will only improve as we begin testing with production quality parts versus prototype components,” said Ali Javidan, CEO and Founder of Range Energy.
“We were impressed with the Range trailer. Whether a fleet wants to reduce fuel usage or increase BEV range, this system provides unique opportunities over a traditional trailer – and by a large amount when considering it achieved 36.3% fuel savings. Our drivers also liked the Range trailer, reporting it pulled easier and felt lighter. Naturally, there is a trade-off with electric charging and additional weight, so it may not suit every fleet, but for those considering the EV direction, Range is worth talking to,” Daryl Bear, COO, MVT Solutions.
The technology could help fleet operators meet emerging emissions reduction targets and bring down their cost-per-mile regardless of their duty cycle. There’s no information as yet on the price of the trailers. The company expects to start scale production in 2024.