Electra Commercial Vehicles has unveiled an ambitious plans to develop a temperature-controlled battery electric vehicle (BEV) with a range of 800 kilometers on a single charge. 

The company has secured funding from the European Horizon 2022 framework to embark on this groundbreaking project, which is part of the wider Escalate Project initiative - a consortium of 37 organisations from 13 countries across Europe.

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Coordinated by FEV Europe GmbH, an innovation leader in sustainable mobility, energy, and software, the consortium aims to drive the development of heavy-duty vehicles (weighing 40 tonnes and above) with electric propulsion, including battery electric, fuel cell, and fuel cell range-extended vehicles, to contribute to a net-zero future.

With an official start date in January 2023, this ambitious €19 million initiative spans 42 months and seeks to deliver five pilot vehicles that will showcase significant technological advancements in terms of range, efficiency, and component design.

Electra Commercial Vehicles will play a pivotal role in the project by constructing one of the pilot vehicles – a 40-tonne drawbar battery electric vehicle (BEV). This vehicle will be capable of traveling 800km on a single charge. Electra plans to demonstrate the capabilities of this temperature-controlled BEV in both the United Kingdom and Germany.

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The foundation of the truck will be built upon Electra’s eStar LEM27-350 chassis. The accompanying drawbar trailer will feature an energy-efficient electrically powered refrigeration system, high-performance insulated box bodies equipped with tail lifts, and cutting-edge lightweight, low-profile solar panels to maximise the vehicle’s range.

To ensure the technological advancements are accurately assessed, all pilot vehicles will be benchmarked against state-of-the-art vehicles currently available in the market. Additionally, digital twins – computer simulations of the proposed solutions – will be employed to expedite the testing and verification processes, further enhancing the efficiency of the project.

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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.”