Been there, done that01 June 2022

CV Show Electra eCargo FCEV hydrogen

Another edition of the CV Show brought together vehicles and people underneath the high steel roof trusses of NEC’s halls 4 and 5. Below is a round-up of show floor news

The Solomon stand featured a preproduction 19t gvw Electra hydrogen fuel cell hybrid electric rigid vehicle, said to be the first of its kind to go into operation. The Electra eCargo FCEV will be on trial with Sainsbury’s as part of the Road to Hydrogen – a UK government-funded project linked to the Teesside Multi-Modal Transport Hydrogen Hub. However, after the show the vehicle will first return to Electra for further testing, Transport Engineer understands. The vehicle is fitted with four type-three cylinders behind the cab, providing it with a capacity of 20kg of hydrogen at 350bar, as well as a Proton Motors HY45 fuel cell. It is said to have an operating timescale of 9-10 hours. Electra has deliberately designed the vehicle with an over-specified battery pack of 225kWh. After the trials have been completed, this will be reduced to 80kWh. For the Tees Valley project, where it will be collecting data, Electra required contingency in its ability to return to base. The truck has been built on a standard IVECO Eurocargo glider chassis equipped with a Solomon insulated flexible split-compartment refrigeration body and a tuck-under Dhollandia tail-lift. The Carrier Iceland Split Refrigeration System is also powered by hydrogen with an EV Powerbox inverter. Early testing suggests a battery-only range of 120-140mi, doubled with hydrogen to 300mi. Another vehicle on the Solomon stand, a 26t Renault battery-electric rigid, features both a rounded front and cam-tail rear – what the company calls its ‘full slipstream’ package. That body also was equipped with side doors, a rear shutter and tail-lift.

The other ultra-modern vehicle on show was a preproduction model of the Volta rigid battery-electric truck, with its radical curved front cab. Carrier showed its Iceland II chassis-mount fridge on the Volta. Instead of being attached to a diesel-hydraulic pump fitted to the PTO, this system connects to the traction batteries by the Eco-drive system and a new 400V three-phase inverter. The truck’s batteries, which run at 700V DC, are converted into 400V 50Hz AC in a conversion process said to be more than 95% efficient. The company is apparently seeing a big shift in interest from diesel-powered fridges to engineless technologies, partly because of the phase-out of red diesel rebates.

Paneltex has won a large contract to supply Volta with box van bodies for 16t and 18t battery-electric rigids, including ambient and refrigerated bodies fitted with Carrier fridges such as the one at the show. All units feature a curved front roof profile to fit in with the vehicle’s aerodynamic cab. To gear up supply, the Hull-based bodybuilder is opening a new factory in Yorkshire. Prototypes began to be developed at the end of last year.

Other Paneltex news was a supermarket delivery vehicle body displayed on a Ford eTransit, offering a 1,310kg payload, said to be 400kg greater than standard, according to the company, thanks to a new lightweight panel. The unit on display was part of a five-unit order to be delivered to the customer. It was mounted on a Ford eTransit chassis cab, and offered frozen, chilled and ambient sections, GRP moulded air deflector and GAH electric SRF271E fridge.

Continuing the e-theme, BPW previewed the ePower trailer axle module that recovers energy when the trailer is moving. The system is designed to power an electric fridge, and has been developed in collaboration with Thermo King. The air-cooled unit is equipped with two 8kW generators (nominal power output 5kW), both driven, and each with a hub-based motor connected to a helical reduction gearbox. A clutch mechanism, fed by information from a slope sensor, disengages the unit when going uphill and at speeds of less than 15kph, as well as when the on-board battery is fully charged. Two such chassis-mounted battery packs are available, at 19 and 38kWh. A BPW inverter handles electrical transformation. The axle is only compatible for disc-braked trailers and is intended to be the middle axle of a tri-axle trailer with 22.5-inch super-single wheels. The axle weighs about 350kg more than a normal rigid axle, with battery packs weighing an additional 500-600kg (though of course they replace a diesel engine). The unit is currently in testing in Germany and the Netherlands, and due to begin serial production in the first half of 2023. A UK test unit is arriving in November.

Also shown on the BPW stand was the BAX system, featuring BPW’s eTransport electric drive axle. Not currently marketed in the UK, the e-axle is intended for a 7.5t truck and is being produced with Isuzu. It features two 50kW motors to offer 134bhp total power, or 3,300Nm of torque per wheel. Battery packs range from 84 to 126kWh capacity, offering up to 130km and 200km range, respectively. In the partnership, Isuzu supplies the chassis-cab and BPW the motor, batteries, control system and IDEM telematics. As the system provides power at each hub, it prevents the 5-7% mechanical losses involved in turning torque from a prop-shaft and through a differential, according to BPW. European type approval is expected in the autumn, while testing is ongoing.

One of the three non-diesel fridge trailers shown by Gray & Adams was fitted with the Valx regenerative axle and battery system, which offers the advantage of autonomy from the tractor engine. The system, of which the trailer-maker has sold 60, came to market in February 2021. Customers include Sainsbury’s, Boots and Martin Brower. Recharge at base takes 6-7 hours, with the regenerative braking axle topping up the battery. Single and multi-temperature configurations are available. Another unit on show was an urban semi-trailer for pub and restaurant chain Greene King fitted with a Carrier Eco-drive system that draws power for the fridge from the engine.

In contrast, a third vehicle was a custom 26t rigid for Gist, for its Starbucks coffee shop contract. It also features a full-electric Carrier TRS fridge, driven again by an engine PTO. The underbody features hoppers for waste food and recycled coffee, and also carries a foldable ramp to help drivers navigate steps, scene lights, a 360° camera system, cycle sensor, PIR-controlled air curtain to help retain the cooling in the box body, and tail-lift. The vehicle is the first time the carrier has ordered a bespoke vehicle, says Gray & Adams, and it is renewing its fleet.

Continuing with trailers, the 13.6m curtainsider shown at the event from

SDC Trailers features the brand’s Freespan full-length side opening structure that it only began selling direct to UK customers in 2019 after the conclusion of a prior sales arrangement with Lawrence David. The trailer also sports the Northern Ireland-based firm’s new logo, and an EZ-Roll wind-up curtain. The company reports that it has reopened its trailer order book in March. In other news, it is recruiting franchises for its new all-makes parts sales operation. It is seeking established companies within the CV world for a rapid start-up. SDC Trailers already has one operational site in Haydock, Merseyside. In addition, a wholly-owned branch is opening in Glasgow, as is a new warehouse in Warrington to serve the UK and Ireland, which already has eight branches.

VBG previewed a drawbar coupling driver assistance system to be launched in the autumn. During coupling operations, the system uses a pair of radar-based sensor modules and drawbar-mounted reflectors to show drivers the distance of the drawbar, and provides directions to help them connect the combination. Also launched is a new generation of couplings, featuring a new mechanism said to be more compact, and a digital sensor that connects to an indicator light in the cabin via CAN-Bus. A red indicator shows that the coupling is open; green means it is closed. The 50mm 575V3 model was shown; the 57mm 795V3 model is also said to be popular for heavy-duty operations. Also on the stand was an automatically deployed snow chain system mounted on the rear of the chassis, inside of the wheel. Above 15kph (or at the press of a dash-mounted button) the system, consisting of a spinning disc mounted with a number of short length of chains, deploys. It throws lengths of chain directly underneath the contact patch of drive axle tyres.


Turning to service and repair, asset rental firm TIP Trailer Services announced that it now offers vehicle maintenance reporting services suitable for DVSA’s Earned Recognition compliance platform. Rental customers can have access to a digital form pre-populated with service and MOT information. Phase one of the rollout of the service is for vehicles TIP maintains. Phase two will pull in information from other systems using software APIs so that TIP can manage data for the customer’s entire fleet. One lead customer was trialling the system, and TIP was expecting DVSA approval in mid-June.

Vehicle maintenance service provider Rivus is offering new service, maintenance and repair contract packages called ‘simple SMR’ for small to medium businesses with 15-150 light commercial vehicles. One telephone number books in workshop service. The package is said to ensure consistent levels of service and of pricing across its nationwide garage network. Also launching is a similar service plan for HGVs, intended for vehicles coming out of warranty. The fees for the pay-as-you-go plans are negotiated annually based on fleet size, paid monthly and cover similar maintenance items as were originally covered in the warranty, with a special rate on additional defect items. In addition, the company tenders for many other vehicle maintenance services.

Totalkare showed a miniature inspection pit with integrated roller brake testers and shaker plates for wheel play. The complete construction, of galvanised steel and aluminium, comes pre-assembled with steps, lighting, 400mm-stroke hydraulic platform lift for an inspection technician, and sump tank. The TK-BM65 unit measures 2,180mm long by about 4.5m wide (depending on the choice of 1,000 or 1,200mm-wide brake rollers) and has a depth of 1.8m. Placed in between the roller brake testers is a 500mm-wide inspection bay that runs the length of the pit. Options include a powered hydraulic cover and heating. Also, the pit can be installed directly on a compacted sand base, so does not need to be concreted in place. That means it can be removed if the organisation moves premises.

Atlas Copco showcased the SRB HA battery nutrunner. Powered by lithium-ion 36V technology with charging and battery health indicators, the SRB HA has a torque rating of up to 4,000Nm and an internal torque transducer for maximum control and reliability. Clear user feedback comes from multi-functional LEDs, displaying OK/NOK status messages based on torque and angle readings. Three models are available. The Smart and Connected models feature an internal WiFi server, allowing the tools to be linked to any mobile device. This enables torque, angle and batch data collection without the need for additional software.


Driver coaching and rewards platform Lightfoot has launched a new driver-focused feature that it says has the ability to cut speeding incidents experienced by fleets by more than 80%. The new development, which is available as an add-on to Lightfoot’s system, notifies drivers whenever they exceed the speed limit. The dashboard device encourages drivers to adjust their speed with a series of warnings should they stray above the speed limit for 10 seconds or more. Drivers ignoring the overspeeding alerts receive a Lightfoot penalty. Weekly overspeeding events are reported to fleet managers, detailing the speeding penalties for each driver, and full details are stored in the Lightfoot fleet management portal. This allows operators to swiftly identify repeat offenders within their fleet, and to monitor improvements over time.

Finally, video telematics company VUE Group launched the Low Bridge Alerting System. The solution itself takes the driver out of the equation, reducing the potential for human error, said to be a common cause of bridge strikes. The driver is not required to input any information when entering a vehicle, it is done automatically after the initial install of the hardware. Drivers are then alerted in-cab when they are at risk of hitting a low bridge during their journey. These alerts are stored on the VUEconnected platform for reporting purposes, and can also be set up to be sent to specified email addresses. The system not only acts as a preventive measure, but also provides companies with recorded evidence of driver warnings. Frequency of alerts can be adjusted to suit the specific requirements of a fleet.

Transport Engineer

Related Companies
Electra Commercial Vehicles Ltd
Gray & Adams (Doncaster) Ltd
Paneltex Ltd
Thermo King (Northern)

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