US American vehicle supplier Meritor plans to begin production of its new electric drive for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles in mid-2021 and has already announced three customers: Volta Trucks of Sweden, Lion Electric of Canada, and Autocar Trucks of the United States.
The 14Xe electric drivetrain is to be manufactured at Meritor’s plants in Asheville and Forest City in the US state of North Carolina starting in the summer. It is expected to score, among other things, with a relatively low weight of 800 pounds (around 363 kilograms). Customers can choose from a range of axles, brakes, transmissions and differentials to tailor the drive to the vehicle’s intended use. The electric motor itself can also be ordered with 150, 180, or 200 kW of continuous power, with peak power at 250 kW in each case.
“The 14Xe ePowertrain has been tested in various conditions around the world with several OEMs, vehicle types and applications so that we can offer the industry a proven electric powertrain technology,” says T.J. Reed, vice president of global electrification at Meritor. Generally, the 14Xe is suitable for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
The company had announced an agreement with US truck manufacturer Paccar in January 2020 to supply e-drives. According to Meritor, this is said to be “the industry’s first order for the production of electric drives for Class 8 trucks”, namely heavy-duty vehicles.
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More customers are following for the 14Xe: Meritor says it has signed a three-year supply agreement with Volta Trucks. The American powertrain is to be used in the 16-ton Volta Zero truck, which Volta Trucks unveiled in September 2020. This is expected to go into production in the UK in 2022. No details are available on the order value and volume.
Meritor has also signed a three-year supply contract with Lion Electric, a commercial vehicle manufacturer from Canada, which has been striving recently. The 14Xe is to be installed in the Canadians’ Class 8 vehicles. Finally, Meritor agreed to a five-year supply contract with its compatriots Autocar Trucks, whereby the drive system is to be integrated into the manufacturer’s refuse collection vehicles. In the case of these contracts, too, the order value and volume are unknown.
In addition to the 14Xe, Meritor has already introduced two other electric drives in its Blue Horizon product line: the 12Xe specifically for medium-duty trucks and the 17Xe for heavy-duty trucks. The 12Xe drive is said to be suitable for trucks in weight classes 4 to 7, meaning a gross vehicle weight rating of seven to 16.5 tons. The 17Xe is designed for heavy-duty 4×2 and 6×2 trucks.
For the 12Xe powertrain, Meritor has already announced a customer in 2019 that is about to take significant orders: Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus. VW’s Brazilian commercial vehicle subsidiary is known to deliver 1,600 electric trucks to the Ambev brewery starting in 2020. Initially, the vehicles will receive the ordinary 12X axle with a retrofitted electric motor. As soon as the newly developed 12Xe drive becomes available, it will be used instead of the 12X axle.
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