The greatest challenges in the electrification of heavy commercial vehicles (LCVs) in commercial transport - compared to the internal combustion engine - are the limited range, the long charging times and the significantly higher costs for vehicles and charging infrastructure.
However, the "RouteCharge" project has already overcome all the hurdles associated with a battery change system. First of all, an electric truck had to be designed and built that would allow AC, DC and charging with alternating batteries. The Thuringian truck workshop Framo built this truck with all specifications as a prototype - and registered the 19-tonne truck and trailer with DEKRA. The two-piece battery weighs a total of 4000 kilos and has a range of more than 200 kilometres.
Battery changing system with virtual power station
The three battery changing stations on the route from Peine via Burg to Berlin are also ready to go, where the batteries are gently charged and - by means of dispatching software - are fully charged in time for each change. The two batteries, each weighing 2000 kilograms, are transported from the loading rack to the truck by forklift in less than 15 minutes and securely attached to the sides of the truck. The battery changing stations are also integrated into a virtual power plant and thus serve as an energy storage system - in other words, they can provide electricity to stabilise the power grid. The operator of this virtual power plant is the energy supplier WEMAG AG in Schwerin.
When the electric truck reaches its destination in the distribution centre of Berlin's western harbour, customers are supplied from there. The medium-distance electric truck receives fresh batteries there and immediately sets off on its return journey. A total of three battery changes are necessary on the Peine - Berlin - Peine route. At the same time, 24/7 operation is guaranteed, which is urgently required for the forwarding business. With this range of functions, "RouteCharge" is the European leader for electric trucks on medium distances.
The Osnabrück-based family business Meyer & Meyer is the leading specialist for fashion logistics in Europe and North Africa. The company supports its customers from raw materials and production logistics, through storage, preparation and quality assurance, to the distribution of goods ready for sale to the retail trade or to the end customer. Meyer & Meyer manages and links value chains with modern IT technologies. Meyer & Meyer has 1,800 employees in Germany and abroad.
In addition to the fashion logistics company Meyer & Meyer, the RouteCharge consortium also includes the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology, the TU Berlin with its logistics department, the DAI-Labor Berlin and the energy supplier WEMAG from Schwerin. The consortium leader is the Meyer & Meyer company MC Management GmbH.
New logistics solutions for the future
"With our innovative exchange system we overcome one of the major weaknesses of conventional electric trucks: with the battery exchange, tours of up to 500 km are possible. For the first time, Meyer & Meyer can thus realise medium distances in branch deliveries with an electrically powered vehicle - and this in 24/7 operation around the clock," says Bijan Abdolrahimi from MC Management.
For the future of electric trucks with exchangeable battery systems, leasing models would be conceivable to avoid high initial investment costs. There is also a lot to be said for an exchange battery system with regard to the service life and range of permanently installed batteries. The operator of an exchange battery station could, for example, make the batteries available to transport service providers at variable rates per kilometre and market them during charging times for other purposes, such as balancing energy.
You can find more about Route Charge in the document "Background, data & facts".
You can find more pictures here.
About the "ICT for Electric Mobility" technology programme
In the technology programme "ICT for Electromobility: Integration of commercial electric vehicles in logistics, energy and mobility infrastructures", the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) is currently funding 21 pilot projects from 2016 to 2022 with holistic solution concepts and exemplary system solutions that take technologies, services and business models into account in an integrative way. The research work focuses on innovations in vehicle technology based on information and communication technologies (ICT), economic fleet and logistics concepts, charging, communication and platform technologies, and the integration of electric vehicles in intelligent energy and transport networks.