VW Pouring $1.7 Billion Into Electric Trucks And Busses And E-Roads With Overhead Power Lines

The Volkswagen Group promises to revolutionize public, short, and long haul transportation by applying innovative solutions to these fields through a new  €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) investment over the next five years .

The company’s journey started some two years ago, when they united Scania, MAN, Caminhoes e Onibus, Commercial Vehicles, and RIO under the Volkswagen Truck & Bus division, and it recently culminated with an event that took place earlier this week in Hamburg, Germany.

Developed under the same roof as the technologies already applied to their car brands, these include autonomous driving, electric, and connected solutions, as well as ‘e-roads’, which focus on overhead power lines, just as in the rail sector.

The e-roads support up to 10 trucks per kilometer, and are already used on various test tracks. Moreover, the first e-road was inaugurated in June, 2016, near the Swedish city of Gavle, and more will be implemented over the next few years in different parts of Europe, including Germany.

One of the trucks that carry this technology is the Scania G360, a field test vehicle with a range of 1,000km (621 miles). It features a hybrid powertrain that’s compliant with the Euro 6 emission standards, and has a pantograph that connects to the power lines above.

Nevertheless, until the extension of e-roads, those interested in clean driving can already have the Scania P320. It’s part of their PGR series, it features a hybrid powertrain that’s Euro 6 compliant, and it can be driven on electric power alone for up to 10km (6 miles).

On the other hand, MAN presented their eTGM, an electric truck that promises a range of up to 200km (124 miles). It’s aimed at short haul transportation within cities, it features a RIO box, and it’s going to hit the assembly lines in Q4, next year.

MAN is also interested in autonomous driving, and one of the vehicles that features this technology is the TGX Fellow Truck Concept. It features an active steering system and different sensors that allow it to operate on its own, and has an internal combustion engine that meets the Euro 6 emission standards, and makes 560PS (552hp) and 2,700Nm (1,991lb-ft) of torque.

Scania is one step ahead of MAN, and they have already launched an autonomous mining truck, that’s currently on its way to Africa, where it was ordered by a private contractor. Thanks to its autonomous driving, the manufacturer claims that the cost of ownership is reduced by approximately 40 percent.

With its electric-only function, or with renewable FAME or HVO biofuels, the Scania P320 hybrid comes with a 10km (6 miles) zero-emission drive. It’s already available for order, and it’s aimed at the distribution sector.

Those who aren’t fans of diesel engines but still raise their eyebrows when it comes to electrified trucks can go ahead an order the Scania G340, with its LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) powertrain that makes 340PS (335hp), and comes with a range of approximately 1,000km (621 miles).

Until public transportation becomes cleaner, MAN took the opportunity to unveil their Lion’s City bus. It’s a production version, which uses an inline-six supercharged petrol engine that runs on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), has a range of approximately 500km (311 miles), and can transport 69 passengers, 51 seating and 18 standing.

The Volkswagen E-Crafter evolved from the concept shown last year, into a pre-series production version, and the first zero-emission van will be delivered by the end of the year. It has a 160km (99 miles) NEDC-estimated driving range, and uses a 136PS (134hp) and 290Nm (214lb-ft) of torque electric motor, fed by a 43kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

Whether it’s Level 1 to Level 5 autonomous driving, platooning, connected solutions, or alternative fuel powertrains, the Volkswagen Truck & Bus division seems to have it all. However, despite their commitment to revolutionize these segments, they’re not quite ready to ditch diesel engines, not even in the future.

And to quote one of the execs who spoke to us at the media event, “all options are open” on their path to becoming #1. Whether they succeed is a question that will be answered in the coming years, but they do have a gigantic budget at their disposal to invest into alternative fuels and digital solutions by 2022, not to mention that they also benefit from all the technologies developed by the car brands, under the VW Group’s roof.

Some might be wondering why they’re not interested in fuel cell vehicles, and according to execs, the current generation tech isn’t “interesting” at all. Still, things could change once the next generation of fuel cells appear, probably around 2030, and if they’re as innovative as expected, then they could pose a threat for the battery-powered vehicles.

Photos: Cristian Gnaticov/CarScoops


  • gary4205


    19th Century technology for the 21st Century!


    You want clean, use natural gas.

    • SteersUright

      Yes Gary, we all know you’re a brilliant engineer on an order of superiority far greater than all of those employed at Tesla, VW group, BMW, Audi, and more. They should just drop all these programs and take your advice. Perhaps you may wish to send them a letter proposing to lead the natural gas initiative as the new CEO of VW group?


    • Rolan Volante

      Yeah, the only thing missing in VW’s approach is no know-how in wireless charging technology. Though, many European cities got used to MAN buses and it’s good that they finally show some signs of going electric, as that would be a great remedy for improving the air quality in inner city areas. Therefore, one more thing to do Man – deploy 350kW wireless chargers and you’re welcome. (Hint – liaise with Momentum Dynamics ! )

      • SteersUright

        I’ve read that they dont fully understand the effect of the radiation on people when deploying wireless charging tech on a mass scale, especially of an order capable of charging an entire cities commercial vehicles.

    • SteersUright

      I admit they’re ugly and a host of other issues. All the power lines that cover the skies in cities like San Francisco are such an eyesore. However, I’ve read that as of today, battery technology just isn’t there yet so the overhead power line liberates a TON of weight from massive commercial vehicles that would otherwise be stuffed chock full of batteries or two-engine hybrid setups which aren’t as clean. When it comes to buses and trucks, that freed up weight means more cargo, more passengers, etc. We really need a breakthrough in energy storage tech. I wonder why not bury the power supply and charge from the ground up? Perhaps electrocution risks to pedestrians? Im sure that could be figured out though.

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