PULASKI, Va. — It may soon be possible for trucking executives to convert their diesel fleets to battery electric power without replacing existing tractors. A diesel to electric (D2E) driveline conversion program for electrifying existing Class 7 and Class 8 diesel trucks is currently being developed by Trova Commercial Vehicles (TrovaCV), an engineering and manufacturing firm.
“Over the past year, we’ve developed our rolling chassis as a ‘skateboard’ solution for converting existing heavy-duty trucks to electric power at a much lower cost than buying a new EV,” said Patrick Collignon, TrovaCV founder and CEO. “Our D2E package combines the latest electric driveline technology with a completely new chassis thoughtfully designed from the ground up specifically for EV components.”
TrovaCV is developing a prototype vehicle and engineering processes for the conversion program, with rollout planned in late 2022.
“It is simply not possible to reach lofty zero emission targets without transforming existing diesel trucks in one way or another,” Collignon said. “We are aiming at a population of 400,000 Class 7 and 8 vehicles in North America that are excellent candidates for conversion to battery electric power through our D2E program.”
Each conversion will ride on TrovaCV’s new proprietary rolling chassis, which is purpose-built to accommodate battery-electric driveline components. With this method, a truck’s battery packs can be packaged within the chassis rails. According to TrovaCV, central mounting increases battery-pack durability compared to side-rail mounting, helps to improve vehicle stability and increases the safety of both the batteries and vehicle in major side-impact crashes.
The conversion process will be conducted in a factory. Before the arrival of the original truck to be converted, a new rolling chassis will be equipped with a brand-new electric driveline. Once the truck has been cleaned and all liquids drained, the bumper, hood and cab will be removed and prepped for reassembly. Next, the original axles, fifth wheel and brake system from the existing truck will be transferred onto the new chassis. Finally, the cab, hood and bumper will be reassembled.
A statement from TrovaCV promises the process will be engineered to the highest quality-assurance standards and will incorporate a thorough component inspection prior to reassembly. While the truck is being converted, fleet personnel will be educated on the use and maintenance of their new battery-electric vehicle.
The environmental benefits of the TrovaCV D2E Program extend to putting the recovered components, such as the diesel engine, transmission, and cooling module, into a reman process to extend their life cycles. In addition, the old chassis will be reconditioned and reused if possible; otherwise, it will be recycled.