Green game changer

Krone is proving that steps to sustainability come in different forms and there are many ways to cut emissions. Working with existing trailers, the international trailer builder is making the green goal a lot more achievable and shaking up the industry in the meantime.

In an environmentally conscious world, where every per centage point can make a difference, up to a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions is a big figure, whether you are using fossil fuels or not.

Collaborating with a clean tech innovator start-up, Trailer Dynamics, Krone is addressing the sustainability needs of the industry’s current fleet of diesel semi-trailers. Together, the companies have developed electrified trailers which can reduce the diesel consumption and CO2 emissions of a semitrailer by up to 40 per cent, making a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of heavy goods transport.

The core of the technology is a powerful eAxle which supports the tractor unit in its drive, but also recovers braking energy through recuperation. The Krone eTrailer provides enough energy for long distances over 500 km and can be combined with any conventional tractor unit, meaning the CO2 reduction can be implemented directly in the fleet.

The digital technology of the intelligent control system and the automation of the processes in the eTrailer’s drivetrain control system also makes a significant contribution to these savings.

“Thanks to our eTrailer technology, we are able to significantly reduce the diesel consumption and CO2 emissions of any semitrailer regardless of the manufacturer,” said Trailer Dynamics Co-founder and Managing Director, Michael W. Nimtsch. “In addition, the energy carried in the eTrailer increases the range of battery electric vehicle semitrailer tractors, enabling fully electrified heavy goods transport over long distances of up to 700 kilometres.”

Simon Richenhagen, Head of Marketing at the Krone Vehicle Group, said: “As part of our sustainability strategy, we developed the eTrailer together with Trailer Dynamics. This step emphasises our commitment to innovation and environmental awareness as well as symbolises our vision to shape the future mobility in a responsible way.”

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), there are approximately 5.8 million diesel semi-trailers in the European fleet as of 2022. This represents about 96 per cent of all semi-trailers in the EU which have the capacity to take on green technology and significantly reduce their emissions.

According to its developers, the intelligent control software is another highlight of the eTrailers. It works by using and distributing the battery-sourced electrical energy optimally, over the entire route.

The reliable real-time control of the system is independent of the tractor, so the semitrailer system is transformed into an electric plug-in hybrid, by intelligently combining an eTrailer and a diesel HGV. For road safety, when the vehicle articulates, the trailer disconnects with the sensor so it doesn’t push a truck-trailer combination through corners that might cause a jack-knife.

There are two battery power options – 400kW and 550kW – and the e-trailers employ regenerative braking to send electricity back to the batteries during braking. They have 44 kW AC chargers built in or can be charged by a DC fast charger at up to 350 kW.

Putting their eTrailer to the ultimate field test, this past northern spring, Krone joined Trailer Dynamics and European freight and logistics company, DB Schenker, to study the efficiency of various tractor/trailer combinations on the job. The diesel consumption of the semitrailer system with a conventional trailer was compared with the diesel consumption of the semitrailer system in combination with an eTrailer.

The results showed that eTrailer (M300) combination consumed more than 40 per cent less fuel than a tractor unit with a conventional trailer. Similarly, a comparative test was organised between two electric tractor units (eActros 300), each in combination with an eTrailer and a conventional trailer while in regular operation use at DHL.

The eTrailer combination was able to achieve a range of 650km. Market reception of the eTrailer has so far been positive. DB Schenker, for example, announced last year it would order 2000 of the Krone vehicles with the first units expect to enter service in 2024.

“The acquisition of the eMega Trailers offers us new opportunities to operate our network efficiently and thus also become more environment friendly,” said Executive Vice President, Head of Network & Linehaul Management at DB Schenker, Wolfgang Janda. “This marks yet another step in our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and become carbon-neutral by 2040.”

Krone eCool Liner
Sustainability in the area of trailers isn’t the only direction Krone has taken. The company recently premiered its eCool Liner, which works in conjunction with the all-electric Celsineo refrigeration unit, to ensure that cargo is cooled without emissions.

The technology is based on the interplay of the eAxis, which enables electric drive support both through a powerful battery and recuperation, as well as the fully electric Celsineo cooling system.

The 800 V high-voltage system not only supplies the refrigeration unit with an average power requirement of 15 kW in the deep-freeze range, but also the electric drive train of the eTrailer.

The large traction battery version of the eCool Liner can guarantee a fully charged uptime of the cooling system, while in the deep freeze mode, of up to 36 hours.

Another advantage is its lower noise emissions, which means it is good for night-time deliveries, as well as the uniform weight distribution due to its lightweight bulkhead unit. The positioning of the battery pack below the superstructure reduces the risk of overloading the drive axle of the semitrailer tractor in the event of a partial load. The tare weight of the trailer is similar to that of a vehicle unit equipped with conventional refrigeration technology and thus enables the same payloads in operations.

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