Hybrid drive technology for utility vehicles: Technology and application examples

By definition, hybrid drive systems consist of two drive components and two energy stores. However, unlike diesel-electric drive systems, both motors, the internal combustion engine and the electric motor, are mechanically coupled to the drive train. As with a fully electric drive system, an inverter (see VECTOPOWER from ARADEX) is required between the electric motor and the battery.

There are different variants for implementing hybrid drive technology. While parallel hybrids have two drive trains that act simultaneously, serial hybrids use the internal combustion engine to charge the battery (= diesel-electric).

Another, fundamental distinction is between a self-sufficient and a plug-in hybrid. An autonomous hybrid drive charges the accumulators of its electric motor exclusively via the built-in generator. The batteries of a plug-in hybrid, on the other hand, can also be charged at a socket.

Advantages and disadvantages

Vehicles with hybrid drive are ultimately a combination of the respective advantages and disadvantages of electric motors and combustion engines. While a combustion engine can be used to achieve high ranges, the drive system is more efficient due to the electric motor and the associated high efficiency in the partial load range as well as the possibility of recuperation. In addition, the dependency on an electrical infrastructure is mitigated by the internal combustion engine. CO2 emissions are lower than those of cars with only a combustion engine but still higher than those of a purely electric car – the same holds true for the costs of fuel consumption. Depending on the design, hybrid technology allows a high degree of flexibility, as it is possible to decide whether to drive with an electric motor, an internal combustion engine, or with both, depending on the driving situation. A vehicle can be driven with high efficiency in urban traffic using the electric drive and with the combustion engine on highways – however, this flexibility also entails a relatively complex technology since two drive trains must be installed and coordinated in their operation.

Application areas

Hybrid drive technology is suitable for vehicles that are used both under partial load in urban traffic and under full load on motorways and are not to be dependent on the electrical infrastructure, as is the case with purely electric vehicles. The VECTOPOWER power management works reliably in hybrid drives for utility vehicles, ships, and rail vehicles.