In the future, MAN Engines will offer more and more electric drive solutions. In an interview, Head of Sales Reiner Rößner talks about possible products, useful applications and the benefits that MAN Engines can offer its customers.
We are already receiving lots of enquiries from different sectors such as construction machinery manufacturers and agricultural engineering. In the marine sector, we have completed the first pilot projects with hybrid drives. Batteries are also generally of interest for energy storage solutions, and we also see great potential for the future here. Overall, the demand for battery-electric solutions will increase sharply in the future.
In principle we can use all technologies that the TRATON Group has to offer – in other words, our customers have access to not only batteries but also electric motors or complete electric drive trains. However, it is important for the planned application to actually be suitable for battery-electric drives and for a detailed system design to be created with the machine manufacturer in advance.
In the on-road sector this currently includes, for example, special vehicles such as airport buses or road sweepers. In the off-road sector, battery-electric drive operation is suitable for machines that do not require too much power – such as yard or wheel loaders. In the “Power” segment, batteries can be used for emergency power supply or to store electricity from a cogeneration unit that is not currently required. In the marine sector, hybrid drives are beneficial for emission-free movement in regulated areas or to get power silently when anchored.
Our customers do not receive standard batteries, but rather products that are perfectly tailored to their respective requirements. To ensure this, we have set up a development centre for batteries in Nuremberg where, among other things, we operate our own test stations for extensive battery testing. Furthermore, we are continuously working on improved cellular chemistry and optimised battery packaging in order to increase power density.
We naturally benefit from the fact that we are part of the Volkswagen and TRATON Groups, where intensive research is being carried out into new battery technologies. However, that alone is not enough as our customers often have very special applications, for which we first have to adapt a battery-electric drive train. As a result, we have in-house experts who ensure custom engineering. Experience in high-quality, large-scale production is also needed alongside an excellent development department. MAN has proven its capability in this regard over recent decades.
This is a major advantage of MAN Engines as we already have an extensive network of service centres around the world. We are currently making this existing organisation ready for high-voltage technology. In addition, we also train the staff of customers who operate their own OEM workshops. Customers who purchase a battery-electric solution from MAN Engines can therefore rely on the excellent service that we already offer for conventional drives. This example highlights that you need to be able to do more than just produce a few batteries: stable batch production, global service and a secure supply of cells are crucial – and we benefit greatly from the advantages of the Group.
Although battery technology is making great strides, it is not yet suitable for high-performance applications. We are therefore currently only able to replace combustion engines in smaller machines or special vehicles. I estimate that by 2030, around 20 to 25 percent of all components sold will be electric. Combustion and electric engines will therefore exist alongside each other for a long time to come – including in our product range.