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BMW Group tests electric semi-trailer for real-world logistics operations

BMW Group tests electric semi-trailer for real-world logistics operations
BMW Group tests electric semi-trailer for real-world logistics operations

BMW Logistik,  a division of Germany’s BMW Group in partnership with Trailer Dynamics, has successfully tested an electrically powered semi-trailer on various tracks and over varying distances in real-world logistics operations.

Head of BMW Group Production Network and Logistics, Michael Nikolaides says BMW Group is committed to the target of complete climate neutrality throughout the entire value chain. “The pilot testing with Trailer Dynamics’ e-trailer showed that using this kind of electrified semi-trailer significantly reduces the fuel consumption of standard diesel tractors and noticeably increases the range of e-trucks,” he says. 

The successful tests took place on real logistics routes around the BMW Group location of Dingolfing. The round-trip transportation on demanding routes was carried out with the logistics service provider Gahr International. 

The distance covered was up to 250 kilometers (402 miles) per day on motorways and main roads, with automated and simultaneous data collection from the e-trailer and tractor being performed for the first time. These tests showed an average reduction in diesel consumption of 46.59 percent.

Battery and electric drive axle

Unlike a conventional semi-trailer, the e-trailer from Trailer Dynamics is fitted with its own battery and electric drive axle. This axle supports the semi-trailer truck’s engine. Integrated sensors on the kingpin between the tractor and the trailer ensure an optimum load ratio and thus the best possible fuel economy. 

As well as reducing the tractor’s energy consumption, the eTrailer’s powered axle also provides additional power during start-up and on slopes. In combination with a diesel truck, the security of supply is also ensured even if the battery of the eTrailer is empty.

Trailer Dynamics on a ‘green’ mission 

The German-based company was founded in 2018 and sees itself as a technology innovator for heavy commercial vehicles, especially trailers. It’s on a mission to ensure environmentally friendly logistics through its eTrailer technology. 

In explaining how its eTrailer works, the company states, “The eTrailer replaces one of the free-wheeling axles with an electrified axle. This powerful electric axle of the eTrailer supports the semi-trailer tractor system on the entire route, in normal driving operation, when starting and when tackling inclines. 

The electric powertrain helps recover energy (recuperation) during braking. If not all of the electrical resources are required for the above-mentioned tasks, the electric drive of the eTrailer permanently supports the diesel drive of the tractor unit over the entire route with the remaining energy.”

Trailer Dynamics adds that in combination with a battery-electric tractor unit, the eTrailer brings about a significant increase in range.

The company has been involved with several electric semi-trailer projects such as the testing of a semi-electric trailer with the logistics provider DSV. 

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.

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