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Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus takes the lead with electric technology

September 19 2018

VW commercial vehicles with electric technology are already on the streets for their test phase

The automaker estimates serial production of electric trucks and buses starting by 2021

Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus is at IAA, the world’s largest commercial vehicles show, with innovative technology that will leave its mark on the future of mobility, where the e-Delivery truck and the Volksbus e-Flex are its prominent highlights. Presented as prototypes, the test phases for both have been defined, as well as the projected date for the start of serial production.

The Volkswagen electric model for transporting passengers will begin circulating next year on Brazil’s streets. It will enter the company’s sales portfolio just six months after the e-Delivery truck, which is scheduled for serial production in 2020.

“In a new world premiere, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus presents an electric solution for passenger transportation. We have brought our contribution to the world debate about new energy sources, with viable and concrete solutions, supported by tests with international standards”, declares Roberto Cortes, president and CEO of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus.

At the same time, the company has taken firm steps toward connectivity, another pillar for transportation’s next level. RIO tool is already in tests with Brazilian clients to demonstrate how digital solutions can contribute to increase the business of both large fleets as well as small carriers.

At the Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus booth, the best in diesel technology can also be found: the Constellation 33.440 and the Delivery Express are, respectively, VWCO’s heaviest and lightest models to assure solutions designed specifically for the current needs of the emerging markets.

“We have begun our largest cycle of investments, totaling R$1.5 billion, in order to focus on new products, new markets, digitalization and connectivity for our brand”, reveals Roberto Cortes.

VW e-Delivery debuts with TRATON Group powertrain and modular platform exclusive for electric vehicles

The e-Delivery hits the IAA presenting two novelties: the powertrain and battery set developed by the TRATON Group, of which Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus is part as one of the strong brands, and the new modular configuration for electric commercial vehicles conceived by the Brazilian Engineering department, intended to cover most Volkswagen’s platforms. The model is undergoing tests and its serial production is expected by 2020.

The new powertrain developed by the TRATON Group confers the e-Delivery all the synergy of components and its subsequent gains. The electric engine and inverter set is present in the group’s entire electrical line, as well as the battery banks, which share lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cells. With the new powertrain, the e-Delivery offers up to 260 kW of power, with maximum torque of 2,150Nm, even at low rotations, and does not require the use of transmission in the applications of the Delivery family due to its high torque sent to the drive axle.

The modular configuration, with the reallocation of the electric motor to the rear overhang, allows to divide the vehicle into three main modules: front module (cabin and auxiliary features), center module (batteries) and rear module (powertrain). It is a new concept for electric trucks, whose aim is to make assembly flexible and clear more space for batteries.

This allows creating different arrangements and combining modules to use this vehicle as the base for new electric models. Modular packages are fully independent, which makes using different components and concepts easy and simple, and allows the highest synergies between the group’s companies and partners.

With a new setting of NMC batteries, the maximum autonomy of the new e-Delivery family exceeds 200 km, which may vary depending on how the vehicle is set to serve customers’ applications. Similar to the Volksbus e-Flex, battery recharge can be made in the quick mode, recovering 30% in 15 minutes or 100% in three hours, depending on the desired configuration.

The model presented at IAA also makes advancements with its smart systems. Now it features pneumatic suspensions and brings a smart payload reading system in order to adjust power consumption with the Eco-Drive Mode.

To maximize the e-Delivery’s performance, the brake has three regeneration stages to recover up to 30% of the power during braking, using the same energy to recharge the battery. The regenerative brake acts before the pneumatic brake to slow down the vehicle, and the entire system can be adjusted according to the cargo condition or driver’s preference.

Its powertrain is ready to start in hills of 30% slope, without any difficulties, with the support of the hill start assist (HSA) system.

The auxiliary systems, such as air compressors, air conditioning, steering and water pump are controlled independently, thus optimizing their power consumption. Axles, chassis, wheels and tires maintain the traditional features and all the robustness of the new Delivery line, sharing platform components with the diesel family to ensure synergy and scaling, aiming at the subsequent reduction of costs.

With this evolution in settings, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus presents an e-Delivery which offers not only robustness, but high performance to the market. “With dimensions fitted for operations in large urban centers and comfort, connectivity, safety, low operational cost and energy-efficiency features, our e-Delivery helps making the concept of efficient and smart cities viable, with rational and productive cargo transport, encouraging suppliers to support of electric mobility, especially in developing countries”, stresses Cortes.

Volksbus e-Flex innovates with flexible architecture for electrification

The Volksbus e-Flex is one of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus’ important news at the IAA, bringing an exclusive solution of flexible architecture for electrification, with a concept that can be applied in virtually any vehicle of the brand. The automaker developed the widest, most innovative concept of flexibility and modularity to be applied in commercial vehicles: in a single model, it is possible to find all variants of electric mobility.

The VWCO model can work with battery electric vehicles (BEV); hybrid electric vehicles (HEV); plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV); and range-extended electric vehicles (REEV). Performance is maintained regardless of how the batteries are fed.

Developed by the TRATON Group itself, the batteries can be fed by external chargers in the plug-in concept, or also by a generator present in the vehicle, responsible for one of the greatest news in this solution, and for allowing increasing its autonomy.

In an initiative of partnership development and reinforcing the potential for cooperation between the brands of the Volkswagen Group, a generator set, propelled by one of the most efficient engines in Brazil (the VW 1.4 TSI Flex, currently used for the Golf) was an exclusive and pioneering creation of the Engineering departments of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus (Resende) and Volkswagen do Brasil (São Bernardo do Campo).

This engine can be fueled with gasoline or ethanol, and also allows a version for natural gas or biomethane (1.4 TGI). Thus, offering a highly power-efficient, low-emission level and competitive-cost set.

The start of the generator and engine set is smart and made automatically by the vehicle’s electronic system, as soon as the previously programmed battery charge level is detected.

With the e-Flex technology, the need of recharge infrastructure is reduced, which can speed up and make easier the introduction of this electric vehicle in cities that are still beginning to implement this kind of mobility. This setting even allows eliminating recharge stations or, at least, their balanced use, without constraining operation in some applications.

The Volksbus e-Flex, which features this autonomy-extending set, makes the amount of batteries required for each application more flexible, and can operate with a minimum amount, when compared to traditional electric vehicles, maintaining or even exceeding their range in kilometers, depending on the application.

The battery banks in this model are lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) to deliver high power density and share its cells with the passenger vehicles of the entire Volkswagen Group. This strategy enables obtaining maximum scale-production synergy, meaning it collaborates to reduce battery costs, which currently correspond to a significant amount of the vehicle's acquisition price.

The vehicle can run in full electric mode, depending on the application's demand. This flexibility ensures free riding also in green zones, where there are restrictions for vehicles that are not qualified as “zero-emission”.

“This electrification model is very interesting, once its flexibility satisfies the zero-emission needs with a lower investment cost to rise to the challenges faced by the electric industry in the path towards its commercial implementation, in addition to extending its autonomy for any unexpected events that may happen in the way, without ceasing to comply with the rules in the zones where circulation is restricted”, states Roberto Cortes.

Custom-made for markets

The Volksbus e-Flex architectural flexibility allows introducing the vehicle in different markets. For example, it is possible to adjust its configuration to the power matrix of each country. In Brazil, by using ethanol in the engine generator set, the continuous expansion of this nearly CO2 neutral biofuel is supported (in the well to wheel cycle), in addition to reducing by more than 90% the emissions of NOx and local particulate materials. All that without necessarily depending on local recharge infrastructure, allowing a gradual introduction of clean technologies into large cities.

In other Latin-American countries, many of which have their power matrix based on natural gas, the Volksbus e-Flex allows operating with the 1.4 TGI version of the engine to, in the same way as the TSI, reduce CO2 emissions and take advantage of its natural resources, improving operational costs.

Smart systems

The vehicle also features a power regeneration system that can provide up to 30% recovery of what is required for the vehicles total movement. The electric engine is capable of delivering up to 260 kW of power, with maximum torque of 2,150 Nm, even at low rotations.

The pneumatic suspension featured in this Volksbus also makes a real-time reading of the vehicle’s weight during operation and, combined with Eco-Drive Mode system, adjusts the vehicle’s power consumption.

In addition to eco-friendly, this chassis follows the modern accessibility standards, complying with current mobility requirements: access ramp, kneeling system and low floor.

VW Constellation 33.440 Tractor: the most powerful VW confirms the strength of the synergy in the TRATON Group

In another one of the group’s synergy projects, the Constellation 33.440 combines successful VW and MAN features in a single prototype: the renowned Constellation cabin and the robustness of MAN's chassis and engine. The project combines the expertise of Brazilian and German engineering with the aim of achieving the best configuration for a typically Brazilian application. The solution is about to enter factory tests to serve the sugarcane (taking sugarcane from field to the mill) and forest (transporting reforested wood) segments.

The MAN D26 engine generates 440 hp and the most extensive plain torque curve in the category, supplying 2,200 Nm from 950 to 1,400 rpm. It features ZF 16-speed automated transmission. The 515-liter fuel tank capacity is appropriate for operation.

Another customized feature is the option of rear axles with hub reduction, which extends its traction capability and makes this prototype more robust and ideal for high-performance applications in heavy transport. The combination of the D26 engine, the 16-speed transmission and the hub reduction axle promotes maximum operational efficiency with performance, as well as optimized fuel consumption optimized for the application.

There are drum brakes in the front and rear wheels, extending durability in dust and dirty tracks, with the safety of the ABS systems (which keeps the wheel from being blocked and sliding off when the brake pedal is abruptly stepped on), EBD (works in combination with the ABS system and its function is to distribute the braking force throughout the vehicle’s wheels), ATC (which keeps the wheels from sliding) and EasyStart, to aid starting in gradient.

The maximum traction capability (MTC) with hub reduction axles is around 125 tons and, combined with robustness, performance and operational cost, confers high availability and productivity to the operation.

The operator can also manage the application’s on-road and off-road modes by simply pushing a button, in which the strategy of speed-shifting in the automated transmission is unique, exactly to efficiently comply to the conditions in which the vehicle may need to ride through roads. The result is a custom-made heavy duty vehicle for off-road tracks, with high cargo capacity, chassis robustness and comfort in operation.

Delivery Express brings the concept of ready to load vehicle for VWCO

Outcome of a R$ 1 billion investment in the new Delivery line, a new champion makes its world debut at IAA. The Delivery Express arrives with the concept of a ready to load vehicle to offer more simplicity to Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus’ customers: the vehicle is delivered with an implement, thus ready to load and ready to roll. The vehicle that anyone can drive combines the comfort of a car and the typical robustness of a real truck. For its 3.5-ton TGW, it fits into the Brazilian segment of pick-up trucks.

With the largest internal roominess in the segment in the markets where it is already available, the cabin of the new Delivery combines the most innovative features of ergonomics, comfort, internal roominess and robustness. To offer this result, its development started from the inside out. Driving position, steering wheel grip and seat height adjustment were the initial priorities. Even before speeding up, it provides a whole new experience: the seats were conceived with the collaboration of tens of people with different statures and physiques, so driving could be comfortable for everyone.

Safety is another highlight: the advanced cabin also offers more visibility when exiting ramps or curves, offering more agility in the driver's decision-making. The maneuverability also stands out as the best of the market for this segment, thanks to the wider steering angle and the gain in maneuvering in narrow roads.

In the panel, the economic driving mode allows the driver to follow the indications of the ideal moments to shift gear, which preserves components against wear and also optimizes the reduction of fuel consumption. With Euro 5 technology and EGR system, which does not require the use of AdBlue, the Delivery Express is also the supreme reference to the unique features offered by the line: best power and torque when compared to its main competition.

The new generation of the Delivery line has been designed and developed to define a new benchmark in customer satisfaction needs combined with timeless Volkswagen Values: custom-made solutions, perfect functionality and visual quality. Thus, the design team created a new logic design language focusing on functionality and unique aesthetics.

The Delivery Express opens a new niche for Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus in the market — the challenging 3.5-ton segment— and arrives, with the entire new Delivery family, to revolutionize cargo transport in the segment of light-duty trucks.