ZF Debuts Light Commercial E-Truck Prototype for Japanese Market

May 14, 2019 by Scott McMahan

ZF Japan Co., Ltd. reported that the company developed an electric-powered light commercial truck for the Japanese market. Driven by the slogan, "ZF electrifies everything," the company has electrified a broad range of systems including passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and industrial machines.

ZF Japan's engineering team at the company's Tech Center in Yokohama developed this prototype vehicle in collaboration with a team in ZF headquarters in Germany to meet Japan's unique requirements.

The prototype vehicle employs ZF's CeTrax lite electric drive for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) with a gross trailer weight of up to 7.5 metric tons. The company developed the CeTrax lite electric drive based on its electric drive for commercial vehicles. ZF says its system enables easy conversion of existing series production models into an electric Truck.

ZF CeTrax lite electric drive used in the truck prototype

The fully EV truck prototype has a 5-ton gross vehicle weight which is the most often used commercial truck size in the Japanese market.

Through ZF's systematic strategy of integrating an electric motor, transmission, power electronics, and cooling system, the company achieved a compact and light drive unit with a total weight of 120kg.

"The beauty of our new E-drive module is that it can be installed in existing internal combustion engine (ICE) models and therefore converted to a fully electric vehicle without major modifications to the chassis and axles. This is thanks to our 'plug-and-drive' concept. The system is proven in terms of durability and cost efficiency as the electric drive system for passenger cars is already in series production in the market," said Robert T. Seidler, head of R&D at ZF Japan.

An asynchronous motor equipped of the prototype truck generates 150kW and 380Nm achieving the same level of performance as internal combustion engines in this class while also realizing low noise output and local zero emissions.

ZF believes this electric truck satisfies the needs of Japanese LCV manufacturers and fleet operators. These needs include delivery to 24- hour stores in residential areas both in the early morning or late at night, with frequent stop-and-go style driving such as filling drinks in vending machines, parcel home deliveries, and so on.

ZF says that the driveline produces low enough noise output and delivers enough power and energy efficiency to make the CeTrax lite an invaluable asset to Japanese customers.

"The new prototype is made by replacing the conventional ICE driveline of the most commonly used LCVs in Japan with ZF's CeTrax lite, that is to say, trucks with a 5-ton GVW and load capacity of 2 tons. Starting from this vehicle, ZF will continue to move towards electrification in Japan, as well as globally, while endeavoring to meet the specific requirements of commercial vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators," said Seidler.