Bosch unveils electrified axle for semitrailers

At the IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hannover, Bosch will be presenting an electrified axle that can be integrated into semitrailers. The idea behind it is to integrate an electrical machine into the semitrailer’s axles. This means they can generate electricity during braking, and feed it into the trailer’s power units. In the case of a refrigerated trailer, the saving can be as much as 10,000 euros a year. If the cooling unit is operated using the power generated in this way, Bosch calculates that it can save up to 9,000 litres of diesel a year.

“Bosch is making trucks’ rear axles electric and smart. Our electrification solution for trucks makes economic sense and shows how electromobility can work even in today’s trucks. In addition, the electrical axle is an important step toward automated trailer parking on logistics companies’ parking lots. Adding a powertrain to the axle means that the trailer can be shunted around the parking lot without a tractor,” said Dr Markus Heyn, member of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management.

Bosch offers this technology either for new trailers or as a retrofit solution. The potential demand is huge. In Europe alone, roughly a quarter of a million trailers with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10 metric tons are newly registered every year. One in five of these is equipped with a refrigeration unit.

For example, the SMG180 electric motor already features in hundreds of thousands of hybrid and electric cars worldwide, including the German postal service´s StreetScooters. Unlike in electric cars, the motors in the electrified axle work only intermittently, starting only if they can recuperate energy. This may be the case when driving downhill or braking, for example. As a result of this recuperation, which is an established technology in passenger cars, energy is no longer lost when braking but is stored in a high-voltage battery. The electricity can be fed into the motors during hill starts, or power the trailer’s refrigeration unit, and in this way save a lot of fuel, the company said.

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