The Burn Ultimatum

As the world powers irrevocably towards a zero carbon emission future, each commercial vehicle manufacturer is frantically searching for the best methods to achieve this goal.

Let’s face it, with the latest Euro 6 and forthcoming Euro 7 compliant diesel engines featuring supremely advanced technology that essentially turns them into giant vacuum cleaners, releasing exhaust with fewer particulates into the atmosphere than the air they take in, the last bastion of purity that can be conquered is eliminating carbon emissions.

And seemingly the only way to do this successfully is to stop burning fuels of any kind altogether.

This reality has led to a flurry of activity among the auto manufacturing world in recent years, with each manufacturer seeking to establish the optimum platform to take it into the brave new world where the words fuel and burning will increasingly be regarded as the dirtiest words in the vocabulary.

For its part, Iveco Australia, has recently undertaken an organisational restructure that it believes will help facilitate the company’s transition towards more sustainable transport solutions beyond its current Euro 6 model range.

The appointment of a dedicated resource is part of a broader global initiative, and has seen long-time Iveco Senior Product Manager, Marco Quaranta, take on the role of Strategic Projects and Industry Relations Manager with a focus on propulsion.

In his new position, Marco will be heavily involved in setting up the necessary internal infrastructure and associated support systems to back Iveco’s future alternative energy ambitions.

In relation to electric vehicles technology, he says the technology was rapidly advancing.

“I believe that electric power is the future for commercial vehicles,” Marco says. “Battery power will be key for local pick-up and delivery, refuse collection and other back-to-base applications, but ultimately for longer distances it will be hydrogen electric fuel cells.”

Marco says that thanks to Iveco’s joint venture partnership with Nikola, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Fuel Cell Battery Electric Vehicles (FCBEV) for heavy-duty applications are becoming a reality.

Meanwhile, Isuzu Motors Limited and Cummins Inc. recently announced an agreement to create a prototype medium-duty, battery electric truck to demonstrate in North America.

This is the first zero-emissions solution facilitated by the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain Partnership (ICPP) formed in May 2019.

Through this arrangement, Cummins will integrate its PowerDrive6000 into Isuzu’s F-Series truck, with pilot vehicles expected to commence operation in prominent North American fleets in 2022. Following this, Isuzu will explore opportunities to commercialise medium-duty, battery-electric trucks across North America.

Long-time rival, Hino, has also flagged a strong environmental commitment at an Australian and global level, citing a series of new global joint ventures and collaborations aimed at creating next-generation vehicles.

“Hino is involved in a number of joint ventures, partnerships, and collaborations aimed at reducing emissions and waste to support the Hino Environmental Challenge 2050, which is a set of long-term goals adopted by Hino to help create a sustainable society for the future,” says Daniel Petrovski, Manager of Product Strategy for Hino Australia.

Accordingly, Hino aims to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its vehicles by 90 per cent, which includes the development of next-generation vehicles such as plug-in hybrids, BEV and FCBEV.

For example, Hino has established a 50/50 joint venture with Chinese battery company BYD on commercial development of BEV.Another is between Hino and Volkswagen parent TRATON for e-Mobility in order to plan and provide e-mobility products.

Most recently, Hino has announced a new partnership in commercial vehicles with Isuzu and Toyota.

Hino Hybrid 300.

The three companies will combine Toyota’s CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) technologies with the commercial vehicle foundations cultivated by Hino and Isuzu.

For customers ready to move in that direction now, the SEA Electric SEA-Drive 120a paired with a Hino M Series chassis is commercially available today with the City of Newcastle debuting the first vehicle of this kind in its operations only recently. In Australia, Hino has also collaborated with Melbourne-based SEA Electric on their localised solutions and supplies Hino Semi Knocked Down (SKD) Glider Kits for use in two SEA Electric models.

Meanwhile, Daimler Trucks with its Mercedes-Benz, Fuso and Freightliner brands is continuing to advance its quest for carbon neutrality with a project called Ambition 2039.

Together with the energy supplier Enovos and the Norwegian energy producer Statkraft, Mercedes-Benz is expanding its green power portfolio – which is made up of solar, wind and hydropower – in Germany. Electricity is generated in a solar park near Ingolstadt and by more than 200 wind turbines throughout Germany as well as from hydroelectric power plants, so that the green electricity supply is said to be guaranteed at all times.

The cooperation will reportedly enable CO2-free electricity to be purchased from renewable energy sources from this year onwards and forms the basis of CO2-neutral production. In Germany, in addition to the production plants for cars, vans, trucks and buses, all other Daimler facilities, including the headquarters and administrative locations, are also supplied with green electricity.

In other Daimler developments, the global truckmaker and the world’s largest independent engine manufacturer, Cummins, have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a global strategic partnership. Under the new deal, expected to begin after 2025, Cummins will invest in the development of medium-duty engine systems for Daimler Trucks and Buses.

“We are pleased to announce this important strategic partnership with Daimler to provide the medium-duty engine systems for Daimler Trucks and Buses in global markets,” says Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins.

“Our partnership is a terrific opportunity for both companies to be more competitive, drive global innovation, expand offerings to customers and reduce emissions. Cummins will establish an engine plant within the current Mercedes-Benz engine facility in Mannheim, Germany,” he says.

“The facility will utilise existing resources to produce medium-duty engines compliant with the Euro 7 emissions standard for Mercedes-Benz. Cummins has also committed to using its existing footprint and production and supply chain networks in all other regions for use in other Daimler Trucks’ brands, such as Freightliner of Daimler Trucks North America.”

The memorandum of understanding between Daimler Truck and Cummins makes engine production at the Mannheim location fit for the future according to Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management at Daimler Truck and member of the Board of Management at Daimler.

“With the changeover to Euro 7, we would have to invest considerable resources in the further development of our medium-duty engines,” he says.

“We are now freeing up these funds to focus them on the technologies that are crucial to our long-term corporate success in the transformation of our industry.”

Daimler said it anticipates the partnership with Cummins will enable the company to increase and accelerate its development efforts on alternative and emerging technologies, including non-diesel engines.

The global group will focus on the further progression of zero-emission drive technologies as well as further development of commercial heavy-duty drivetrains.

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