Fully electric drive solutions for utility vehicles: Technology and application examples

Fully electric drive solutions are drive solutions that are completely electrically implemented and therefore do not draw any energy from a combustion engine at all.

In addition to the electric motor and various drive components, fully electric drive systems mainly consist of an electrical energy store – in most cases, a battery is used, but supercapacitors and fuel cells are also possible here. The inverter (e.g., VECTOPOWER from ARADEX), which is located between the energy store and the electric motor and which always supplies the electric motor with the current frequencies adapted to the particular driving situation, is of central importance – this is also the essential efficiency advantage of electric motors over internal combustion engines. In combination with high-performance inverters, electric motors can achieve extremely high efficiency levels of well over 90%.

Advantages and disadvantages of electric drives

Fully electric drive systems achieve enormous efficiency levels of up to 99%. However, such a high efficiency requires a state-of-the-art inverter, e.g., the VECTOPOWER from ARADEX, that optimizes the interaction between the energy store and the motor. The difference in efficiency from the internal combustion engine is particularly great in the partial load range, especially in urban traffic, where frequent braking and acceleration is necessary.

Fully electric drive systems are also technically simple and require hardly any maintenance, since the combustion engine, tank, and gear box can be completely omitted. In the braking process, the brake energy is partially fed back into the battery, which is called recuperation. Electric drives have higher speeds and voltages, lower weight, lower CO2 emissions, and a higher reliability than systems with internal combustion engines.

The disadvantages of fully electric drive systems are the comparatively high purchase costs due to the battery as well as an infrastructure that is not yet available everywhere. As a rule, the high purchase costs are amortized within a few years, since it is many times cheaper to charge a battery than refuel with fossil fuels.

For infrastructure reasons, an electric drive requires more precise planning. In urban areas, and especially for vehicles whose load profile is predictable and foreseeable (e.g., a transit bus), it is fairly easy to schedule time for recharging the battery (e.g., at night). At present, the range is still limited to a few hundred kilometers – however, battery technology is swiftly improving, which is why more powerful batteries and thus a longer range are expected in the coming years.

Fully electric drive systems are the most climate and environmentally friendly drive systems, since they are free from harmful emissions (provided they are operated with green electricity) and quiet to operate.

Application areas for fully electrified drive solutions

Due to the infrastructure, mainly in urban areas. Particularly attractive for vehicles with foreseeable utilization that can be charged at night at a depot and are used during the day. See the Sileo-Bus reference report.