Electra reveals ambitious plans for temperature-controlled BEV with 800km range on a single charge

Electra Commercial Vehicles has won funding from the European Horizon 2022 framework to build a long-haul 40-tonne temperature-controlled drawbar battery electric vehicle as part of the Escalate Project.

Escalate is a pan-European 37-member consortium from 13 countries, coordinated by FEV Europe GMBH, an innovation leader in sustainable mobility, energy and software. The project aims to advance the development of heavy vehicles (40 tonnes and above) with electric drive, including battery electric, fuel cell, and fuel cell range-extended vehicles, towards a net zero future.

Officially started in January 2023, this € 19m 42-month initiative seeks to deliver five pilot vehicles to demonstrate technological improvements with range, efficiency, and design of components.

Electra’s role in this project is to build one of the pilot vehicles – a 40-tonne drawbar battery electric vehicle (BEV) capable of achieving 800km on a single charge, which Electra will demonstrate in the UK and Germany.

The truck will be based on an Electras’ eStar LEM27-350 chassis, with a drawbar trailer that will include energy-efficient electrically powered refrigerated systems, high-performance insulated box bodies with tail lifts, topped off with the latest technology in lightweight, low-profile solar panels to contribute to range maximisation.

The technology introduced on all pilot vehicles will be benchmarked against today’s state-of-the-art vehicles to demonstrate the advancements made. They will be complemented with digital twins – computer simulations of the proposed solutions designed to speed up the testing and verification process.

Ben Smith, MD of Electra Commercial Vehicles, commented: ‘We are very excited to be involved with this project while working with multiple new companies. The ground-breaking technology they will bring to the vehicle will shape a new chapter in Electra’s story. We are eager to showcase our industry-leading capability to design and integrate components into heavy-duty long-haul trucks. This project will be the perfect platform to demonstrate our skills and expertise in delivering sustainable zero-emission propulsion solutions.’

Steve Storrar, Projects Manager for Electra Commercial Vehicles, added: ‘Although this is a complex project with many partners, the collaboration will bring together the best solutions for heavy-duty electric and fuel cell vehicles for the UK, European and global markets. The planned demonstrations will showcase the possibilities with heavy trucks and hopefully remove some of the anxieties associated with operating and charging electrically driven HGVs.’