PACCAR aligns Kenworth and Peterbilt electrification system suppliers

Kenworth electric truck

In a split decision, PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) is counting on major automotive suppliers Dana Inc. (NYSE: DAN) and Meritor Inc. (NYSE: MTOR) for its medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks.

Kenworth confirmed Wednesday that Meritor would provide the electric power system for the  Kenworth T680E, a short-hood day cab in tractor configurations of 4×2 and 6×4 axles and as a 6×4 axle straight truck. The T680E will have a single-charge driving range of 100 to 150 miles depending on application.

Meritor already provides fully integrated power electronics systems for Peterbilt’s heavy-duty Model 579EV, which is being tested by several fleets, including truckload carrier Werner Enterprises (NYSE: WERN). 

“What we’re going to do is develop the best technologies with the highest performance and then we will just supply those for the markets they need based upon where the customers are operating,” PACCAR CEO Preston Feight said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Jan. 28.

Curbing California smog

PACCAR’s approach differs from competitors Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo Trucks North America. Both are leveraging electrification programs that started in Europe to get electric trucks into commercial use faster.

Daimler and Volvo plan limited commercial production in 2021 building on lessons from freight-hauling test fleets on the road in Southern California.

California is pushing for zero-emissions trucking because it has the nation’s worst air pollution from smog-forming greenhouse gas emissions. It is targeting so-called mobile sources like commercial trucking.  

Sourcing decisions

PACCAR is sourcing its Class 6 battery-powered efforts from Dana, announcing at CES in January that the Kenworth Trucks Class 6 K270E and Class 7 K370E would get Dana’s integrated electric drive motor and inverter system. 

Sister division Peterbilt Motors is switching to the Dana system for its 220EV medium-duty truck after announcing a collaboration of Meritor and Transportation Power Inc. at CES 2019.

The three-year program that launches later this year adds $200 million in incremental sales, Dana CEO James Kamsickas said during Dana’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday.

For its money, PACCAR gets a complete Dana e-Power propulsion system, including electric motor and drive system, battery modules and battery management, thermal management and onboard charger and auxiliary systems. 

Meritor integration

Meritor last month purchased the remaining shares in San Diego-based TransPower it did not already own from four previous investments.

“The Kenworth T680E development in collaboration with Meritor is a major advanced technology step in Kenworth’s evolution of zero-emission electric powertrain solutions for our customers,” Kevin Baney, Kenworth general manager, said in a statement.

Initial prototype-to-low-volume production of the Kenworth T680E is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2020 and ramp through 2021, Baney said, 

Commercial ramp-up is expected in 2022, Meritor CEO Jay Craig said on the company’s earnings call Jan. 30.

Meritor is integrating the engineering and intellectual property of longtime partner TransPower, which provides the software that runs the electric system including instrumentation on the vehicle as well as battery management controls. 

The company also is integrating e-axle maker AxleTech, which it purchased in 2019 with the goal of offering complete electric systems for heavy-duty trucking. 

In addition to the work with PACCAR, Meritor has delivered six Blue Horizon electric powertrains to Daimler for medium-duty eM2 trucks being tested by Penske Truck Leasing as part of the 30-truck Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet.