Specialist drivetrain and transmission company ZF has partnered with trailer and component company BPW to push the electrified trailer concept closer to reality.

German company ZF, which first showed an electrified trailer in 2020, said it is cooperating with BPW to offer a fully integrated running gear system for trailer builders that include ZF's AxTrax 2 electric axle. 

Trailer manufacturers Kassbohrer and Krone will also start to implement ZF´s electrification system into their platforms. 

The announcement was made at the 2023 NUFAM trade show in Germany and will see the companies start the process of integrating ZF’s pioneering electrified trailer technologies into their range of products.

The ZF electrified trailer solution integrates ZF’s AxTrax 2 electric axle with a modular battery system box for recuperation and traction support. 

Because it can recuperate energy from braking, the system can effectively convert a heavy-duty diesel truck into a hybrid vehicle.

ZF claims that it can generate up to 16 per cent fuel and CO2 savings, while the optional plug-in variant can save up to 40 per cent. The trailer also provides benefits for zero-emissions electrified heavy trucks by extending their range.

ZF said that its trailer electrification solution also provides a key technology for trailer builders and fleets to meet upcoming local decarbonisation legislations.

Additional benefits can improve driver efficiency and comfort, such as the ‘drive-off support’ that allows 80 per cent more traction force on slippery ground; ‘traction boost’ that can improve acceleration time by up to 50 per cent (helpful when merging onto the highway or overtaking); and up-hill support.

It will also allow up to 60 per cent recuperation which minimises brake energy heat waste and brake particle emissions, and supports electric power take-off systems to supply reefers and other external electric auxiliaries.

ZF director responsible for the electric trailer program, Dr Berns Meurer, said: “Electrification for trailers is an innovative solution to decarbonise road freight transport in the very near future.”

“Instead of solely being pulled by the truck, the new approach provides additional traction while generating fuel savings, reducing CO2 emissions and improving sustainability.

“The fact that industry leaders are embracing our system demonstrates that we have taken the right concept approach in developing a lightweight and modular system that can be adapted to suit the diverse requirements and various applications of manufacturers and fleet operators.”

BPW general manager of Business Unit Trailer Solutions & Mobility Services,  Thore Bakker, said: “Every trailer needs a chassis, suspension and braking technology that can be trusted. 

“With our axles for 7.5-tonne trucks and the generator axles for reefers, we already have a lot of experience regarding the integration of electric drives. 

“It therefore makes perfect sense that ZF, with expertise in drivelines, cooperates with BPW to offer a robust and highly engineered running gear solution with the AxTrax 2 axle for recuperation and traction support for semitrailers that can be easily assembled by trailer builders and is fully trusted by the fleets.”

ZF’s AxTrax 2 electrified axle system enables recuperation and traction support to deliver up to 210kW continuous power and 26,000Nm of peak output of seamless torque.

The system has been designed as a highly integrated solution enabling manufacturers to more easily combine electrified technologies into their own trailer platforms. 

It takes advantage of braking energy recuperation to recharge the batteries to generate 16 per cent fuel and CO2 savings, while the plug-in hybrid version can achieve 40 per cent when combined with an ICE-powered truck.

ZF said that the electrified trailer solution was designed to meet future standards and comply with national and regional regulations. 

The first electric trailers are expected to be operating on EU roads, once regularity classification has been received.

It said that via the electric trailer, diesel trucks can be transformed into hybrid vehicles; electric trucks (whether battery or fuel-cell powered) can be given an additional drive. 

In addition, trucks that already have a purely electric drive (BEV or fuel cell) can use the additional electric drive on the trailer as a zero-emissions range extender.

ZF first announced development of its electrified trailers at the CLEPA Innovation Awards in 2020 where it won the ‘environment’ category.

For a great deal on financing your new purchase, contact Australia's best reviewed finance broker on 1300 Credit (1300 273 348) today or visit CreditOne.com.au