ZF has taken the wraps off its electrified trailer solution, offering the potential to reduce fuel consumption, lower CO2 emissions, and enhance road freight efficiency. The technology integrates ZF’s AxTrax 2 electric axle and a modular battery system.

ZF electric trailer

Source: ZF article

German automotive supplier ZF has unveiled its latest innovation in electrified trailer technology at the NUFAM commercial vehicle trade show in Karlsruhe, Germany. The ZF electrified trailer solution integrates the AxTrax 2 electric axle with a modular battery system box, designed for recuperation and traction support.

The concept behind the eTrailer is to equip semi-trailers with their own electric drive system that responds to the behavior of the connected tractor unit. This innovative approach aims to alleviate the workload on the tractor unit, enhancing overall road freight efficiency. ZF refers to this concept as “the latest key technology for trailer manufacturers and fleets seeking to comply with forthcoming local decarbonisation regulations and optimize road freight transport.”

These semi-trailers are equipped with ZF’s AxTrax 2 e-drive axle, which not only supports the truck’s propulsion but also captures and stores energy during braking. The energy is temporarily stored in a battery system box, although ZF does not provide specific details about the battery management system. According to ZF, this technology holds the potential to significantly reduce fuel or energy consumption and lower CO2 emissions while improving the safety and driving dynamics of the entire vehicle.

The potential savings are quantified by ZF. When utilising recuperation alone, the eTrailer paired with a diesel tractor could save up to 16% in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, says the company. By adding a plug-in solution, which allows external charging for the semi-trailer, the savings potential increases to as much as 40% (based on an annual mileage of 80,000 km in regional distribution transport). Furthermore, when integrated into an all-electric vehicle combination, whether battery electric (BEV) or fuel cell electric (FCEV), the electrified trailer solution may extend the vehicle’s range, although specific details are not provided.

“Electrification for trailers is an innovative solution to decarbonise road freight transport in the very near future,” said Dr. Bernd Meurer, responsible for the electric trailer programme at ZF. ”Instead of solely being pulled by the truck, the new approach provides additional traction while generating fuel savings, reducing CO2 emissions, and improving sustainability.”