2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3, Page #25[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
E-Truck Built By Truckers For Truckers
“We’ve been saying for a long time that four or five good mechanics can build a truck faster than 40 or 50 tech bros,” says Barber. “We have a diesel engine, but it only runs when the batteries need to be recharged. Everything else is electric.”
Barber and Little proved out their concept by retrofitting a 1962 Kenworth. Like the Tesla Cybertruck, it has a battery pack. Unlike the Tesla, it also has a 450-hp. CAT C9 industrial diesel genset that acts as a 600V, Level 4 fast charger.
The two men founded Edison Motors about a year ago with a concept. The first step was completing the retrofit. The end goal is to build new, electric, heavy-duty trucks and retrofit older ones. Crowdfunding, largely from other truckers, is financing the effort.
“About 95 percent of our investors are truck drivers or trucking company owners,” says Barber. “They invested because they want us to build a good truck that is reliable and fuel efficient.”
Building a truck for truckers means one they can fix or repair themselves. “We get most of the parts off the shelf at local parts stores,” says Barber. “At every step, we ask our mechanics and engineers to select components easy to find and fix.”
The two partners got their start with a used logging truck. To them, building a heavy-duty truck means focusing on tandem and triple-drive axle trucks. The key to meeting their goal on new and future retrofits is the E-Axle.
Each E-Axle has a 540V, 3-phase electric motor mounted to the differential. The motor produces 335 hp. at the axle, giving a tri-drive truck 1,005 hp. Torque is impressive as well, with each axle producing 34,200 ft. lbs. Each axle is also rated for 28,700 lbs. gross weight.
Battery modules are heated and cooled for extreme weather. The heater is a simple diesel engine heater hooked up to the standard battery pack cooling system. Battery modules are 35kwh and weigh 490 lbs. The twin-axle trucks will carry five modules, while the triple-axle trucks will carry eight modules. The all-electric version replaces the genset with more battery modules.
“We can put in a 2,000-lb. diesel genset that puts out almost 5 megawatts of power,” says Barber. “With a battery pack, the diesel only runs half-time.”
Edison Motors is now building its first production truck. Once finished, it will go through extensive regulatory testing.
In the meantime, they are working on retrofitting logging trucks, a snowplow, and a hydrovac for several strategic partners. Unlike an OEM truck, a retrofit only needs to be tested at a mechanic’s shop to be sure it is safe, gets its sticker, and is ready for work.
“We’ll be doing 6 mos. of testing with the retrofits, and then we want still more time on the road to gather data,” says Barber.
He hopes the road time will help establish miles per gallon with the diesel-electric system. “It would be easier if we were going down the road with an 80,000-lb. load,” says Barber. “We’re talking about vocational trucks. What they do and where they go will make a difference in mileage.”
Barber expects it’ll be about a year and a half before the company starts taking orders on new trucks. Retrofits will be earlier. They will vary from replacing just the drive train to everything but the cab and body.
“We’re still working out pricing,” says Barber. “We expect our new trucks to run about 20 percent more than diesel-only equipment.”
One of many things that sets this company apart is the desire to share every step of the journey. There are more than 250 TikTok videos and more than 20 YouTube videos about their process.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Edison Motors, P.O. Box 2195, Merritt, B.C., Canada V1K 1B8 (www.edisonmotors.ca).
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