CES 2020: Kenworth collaborates with Dana on medium-duty electric truck

Kenworth electric truck

Kenworth Truck Co. showed its first zero-emissions Class 6 medium-duty electric truck with power electronics from Dana Inc. (NYSE: DAN) at CES 2020, a few feet from where sibling Peterbilt Motors unveiled its version a year ago.

The Peterbilt Model 220E originally was shown with power electronics from Meritor Inc. (NYSE: MTOR) and TransPower Inc. Now both Paccar Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) divisions are going with Dana’s electronic powertrain.

“We might deliver a hundred by the end of the year and hope to get into broader production in 2021,” Brian Lindgren, Kenworth Research & Development director, told FreightWaves on Jan. 7. “We elected to start with this one because it is virtually the same chassis between a Kenworth and a Peterbilt. From a Paccar standpoint, it makes a lot of sense.”

If electric demand grows in Europe, Dana could end up supplying DAF, Paccar’s third truck brand, which makes only cabover models.

Rolling chassis

Kenworth provides a rolling chassis that Dana upfits with a fully integrated electric drive motor and inverter system. A power cradle that includes accessory drives for hydraulic power steering, direct current (DC) to DC chargers, and heating and air conditioning takes the space typically occupied by the diesel engine.

The system generates, stores and manages the energy for the truck, and includes an on-board charger, and two battery packs. The driving range varies between 100 and 200 miles depending on how many side-mounted battery packs are used. Dana-developed software and controls enable the diagnostics and telemetry of the complete system.

“It’s a proven system that’s been used in 15,000 vehicles globally,” most of them buses, “which is a demanding application,” said Steve Slesinski, Dana director of product planning.

Dana already provides the drive axle and driveshaft on the diesel-powered K270.

Fast charging

Using a DC fast-charging system, the Class 6 Kenworth K270E and Class 7 K370E charge in about an hour, making them ideal for local pickup and delivery and short regional haul operations. Regenerative braking in stop-and-go city driving adds energy back to the battery. The trucks ideally would return to a fixed location for charging.

Kenworth counts about 15% of its sales in medium-duty trucks. But as electrification advances and battery costs come down, it wants to be in a position to meet growing demand.

WIth its full-year head start, Peterbilt placed 15 demonstration Model 220E medium-duty electric trucks to collect validation data in city delivery, regional haul and refuse applications.   

The Peterbilt Model 220EV is powered by two TransPower battery packs with a total storage capacity of 148 kWh, and a Meritor Blue Horizon two-speed drive eAxle with up to 335horsepower. It can travel more than 100 miles and recharge in as little as one hour with a fast-charging system.

Market curiosity

Through generous grant programs that offset the higher price of an electric truck, California offers the greatest impetus for fleets to go electric, Lindgren said. Oregon and Washington, South Texas around the Port of Galveston and Northeast port states New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts also are interested.

“Now it starts to make economic sense to the end user that it’s economically advantageous to run an electric truck compared to diesel,” Lindgren said. Kenworth expects to eventually offer a conventional body medium-duty electric, joining competitors Daimler Trucks North America eM2 and Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV), which revealed an electrified Class 6 MV at the North American Commercial Vehicle show in Atlanta in October.