MAN Truck & Bus

In megawatt steps to green heavy-duty transport

Transport minister Volker Wissing sitting in the MAN eTruck cab

16 May 2022

“How cool is that?” murmurs someone in the crowd. And then it whooshes past again. The MAN electric 40-tonne truck prototype is close to production-ready and is taking a few swift, almost silent and astonishingly dynamic laps in Hangar 5 at Berlin’s old Tempelhof airport. In the co-driver’s seat is German transport minister Volker Wissing. When he gets out, his smile speaks volumes.

The minister hasn’t come to Tempelhof just for the test drive though. In discussions with Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, and Frank Mühlon, CEO of ABB E-mobility, the focus is on the shift towards electric-powered HGVs, especially in long-haul transport – and on the political course to set to get us there.

The electrification of heavy goods vehicles is a key building block for the transport transition: In long-haul transport alone, 100,000 electric 40-tonne trucks could save up to 10 million tonnes of CO₂ each year. However, in addition to the development of new vehicles, the development of a high-performance infrastructure is also essential. The electric MAN truck – to be launched in 2024 – can handle daily ranges of up to 800 kilometres, but it can also do so much more: It will be ready for a new generation of fast charging – megawatt charging.

Transport minister Volker Wissing sitting in the MAN eTruck cab

I believe the most important thing is that we need to recognise we should not be discussing the technologies that will offer climate-neutral mobile as a vision of the future. Since they are already here, we should simply use them.

Volker Wissing – Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure

New charging standard for higher ranges

Trucks need large battery packs to give them a similar range to conventionally powered vehicles. And to enable these large batteries to charge quickly enough, significantly higher-powered charging than ever before will be required. The new standard is known as MCS (Megawatt Charging System), delivering huge amounts of power to vehicles quickly – charging at up to several megawatts will eventually be possible. The fastest current rapid charging standard, CCS, only allows charging at up to 375 kW.

A single binding and uniform standard is key to the introduction of megawatt charging technology. Equally important, however, is the rapid availability of the technology, emphasises Alexander Vlaskamp. “Accelerated expansion of the charging infrastructure is the only way to bring about the transport transition and achieve our climate targets.” Vlaskamp tells of the commitment of his own group, which is embarking on this expansion: “As part of the TRATON Group, we are committed to a joint venture with industry partners to establish and operate a public high-performance charging network offering at least 1,700 green electricity charging points across Europe.”

Five men in front of the MAN eTruck

In front of the MAN eTruck in Berlin-Tempelhof: Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO MAN; Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister of Transport; Frank Mühlon, CEO of ABB E-Mobility; Bernd Osterloh, TRATON Board Member for Human Resources and Dr Frederik Zohm, MAN Board Member for Research and Development.

Cooperation with ABB

MAN has partnered with a global leader in the field of charging solutions and a specialist in megawatt charging, ABB E-mobility, for the driving demonstration of its forthcoming electric truck, which makes a clear statement: Vehicle manufacturers and charging infrastructure equipment suppliers are ready to tackle the electrification of long-haul heavy goods transport. ABB can look back on 130 years of history and an involvement in e-mobility since 2010.

Speaking to transport minister Wissing and Alexander Vlaskamp, Frank Mühlon describes the challenges of these new technologies and is pleased with progress so far. “Electrical safety and reliability at system level are elementary in all foreseeable use cases, and our technologies are designed for this. Our goal is to have this new technology ready for market within three years.”

Accelerated expansion of the charging infrastructure is the only way to bring about the transport transition and achieve our climate targets.

Alexander Vlaskamp – CEO MAN Truck & Bus

The new MCS standard is currently undergoing practical testing under the scientific supervision of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research. With funding from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, MCS charging stations have been built at four locations along the A2 motorway. The HoLa (high-performance charging) project is using these sites to gather experience that will help with wider-scale expansion. Germany could set the standards for MCS charging: More than 20 partners from industry and science, including MAN and ABB, are working together on the high-performance charging project.

ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, believes that some 10,000 to 15,000 high-capacity public charging points will be needed across Europe by 2025. That figure will rise from 40,000 to 50,000 by 2030 to enable comprehensive electrification of road goods transport.

Text: Julia Fiedler

Photos: MAN

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