Discover more about the topics and technologies to be discussed at this year's conference, via a series of exclusive interviews with a selection of our expert speakers

Speaker interview: Ralf Plieninger, Deutz

Ralf Plieninger, head of electrification at Deutz, shows how electrified powertrains have already earned their place in the off-highway vehicle industry. Nevertheless, internal combustion engines will continue to be the main power source for heavy-duty applications. Thanks to modern exhaust gas treatment technology and synthetic fuels, diesel engines can be an environmentally friendly option.

What do you see as the roles for the different types of powertrains in off-highway vehicles in the near and distant future?
We see huge potential in the installation of hybrid and fully electric drives, especially in small and medium-size off-highway vehicles. Illustrative calculations of the total cost of ownership (TCO) show how long it would take for the investment in a hybrid drive – for example – to pay for itself in a particular application. Depending on the specific application, the cost of investment can be recouped after as little as one year of use. This is thanks partly to reduced fuel consumption and partly to the downsizing of the engine, because engines of less than 56kW do not need an SCR system for exhaust aftertreatment.

In 2022/2023, Deutz plans to be generating between 5% and 10% of its overall sales revenue from electrified drives including (mild-)hybrid and BEV powertrains. When it comes to heavy-duty applications, we believe that IC engines – diesel engines in particular – continue to be the best choice. The efficiency of modern engines makes an important contribution to climate protection. Our Deutz EU Stage V-certified engine range, for instance, offers low-emission engines with highly advanced exhaust gas aftertreatment systems. Thanks to the emergence of alternative fuels, the diesel engine also has great long-term potential. E-fuels [synthetic fuels], which are based on renewable energies, even make it possible to operate these engines on a fully CO2-neutral basis.

How mature do you think battery and hybrid technology is at this stage? How much development is still needed for the technology to gain widespread adoption?
It depends on where you want to use the technology. In small and medium-size vehicles, we are already at the stage where we can provide solutions that deliver the same or even better performance than a conventional ICE drivetrain but with lower running costs. For heavy-duty applications located away from infrastructure, the energy density of existing battery technology is the limiting factor. For the technology to become more widely used in this field, a quantum leap is needed in terms of battery size, capacity and costs. Nevertheless, mild hybrid functions such as start-stop, crankshaft starting and electrical power take-offs are good options for decreasing fuel consumption – even in heavy-duty machines like large tractors and ore excavators.

What does Deutz offer in this field?
In September 2017, we launched our E-DEUTZ strategy by acquiring Torqeedo GmbH – a global market leader and specialist in integrated electric and hybrid drives in boats. This kick-started the electrification of its product range. Torqeedo’s extensive know-how is providing a solid foundation for driving technological advancements in Deutz’s core off-highway business.

At the 2018 Intermat show in Paris, for example, Deutz unveiled its concept of a modular, scalable hybrid drive consisting of a diesel engine and an e-motor, plus power electronics and a battery pack that was specially designed for this combination. In terms of power output and capacity, each E-DEUTZ component can be scaled to meet customer specifications. Customers will be able to choose whatever is the optimum combination of conventional and electric drive components for their particular application. The aim is to achieve a significant increase in efficiency, which will reduce overall running costs, fuel consumption and emissions.

To demonstrate how e-drives perform under real-life conditions, Deutz has developed two prototype telescopic handlers. The machines, which are normally powered by a 74kW Deutz TCD 3.6-liter diesel engine, were converted – one to a hybrid drive and the other to a fully electric drive – and presented at the 2018 Deutz Electrip customer event. The battery-electric hybrid is powered by a downsized 56kW Deutz TCD 2.2-liter combustion engine supplemented with a 48V, 20kW electric motor and a 10kWh battery. The fully electric demonstrator is powered by a 360V, 60kW electric motor – replacing the diesel engine completely – and a 30.5kWh battery.

What’s even more impressive is that E-DEUTZ has been able to tap into market demand. We have already incorporated two prototype drives – one hybrid and one fully electric – into a telescopic handler produced by Manitou, a world-leading OEM in rough-terrain handling equipment.

Ralf Plieninger will give a presentation titled The E-DEUTZ approach for non-highway applications as part of the Electric & Hybrid Industrial Vehicle Technology Conference. Click here to book your delegate pass, which gives you access to all four conferences.

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