Progress in charging infrastructure opens up new avenues for DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power

Progress in charging infrastructure opens up new avenues for DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power

6 January 2020

Improvements in the charging infrastructure have allowed the DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power, which DAF Trucks and VDL Groep developed together, to make huge strides forward. By using a clever recharging technology, this electric truck is capable of driving upwards of 300 kilometres a day. Recharging the battery to full capacity only takes half an hour, which means the vehicle can be fully integrated into the operation without any additional waiting time for the driver, and journey schedules can be optimised.

The advanced VDL E-Power charging infrastructure features liquid-cooled charging cables and high-capacity plugs that enable the battery of the e-truck to be charged with up to 400 amps during regular operation – for example while the driver is on a break. After the break, just like at the start of the shift, the driver will once again be able to use the battery at full capacity.

From ‘source to wheel’
The distribution centre of supermarket chain Albert Heijn in Zaandam uses three chargers of the new, heavier type (300 kW). The charging points are powered by electricity that comes from thousands of solar panels on the distribution centre's roof. In other words, locally generated ‘green’ energy is used to recharge the e-trucks, creating a fully sustainable system from ‘source to wheel’.

VDL has partnered with DAF Trucks, TNO, Jumbo Supermarkets, Albert Heijn, Simon Loos, Peter Appel, Tinie Manders, THT Koeltransport, Allego, Heliox and Croonwolter&dros to test sustainable solutions for zero-emission transport with electric trucks. A pilot with six fully electrified trucks was set up a year ago, in which the e-trucks were used to supply shops in city centres with no emissions and minimum noise levels. The pilot is supported by the Demonstration Scheme for Climate Technologies and Innovations (DKTI) in transport. During the field tests, the six fully electric trucks together covered a distance of more than 150,000 ‘clean’ kilometres, which equals driving around the world nearly four times.

With the knowledge gained, the e-truck has been further developed, including new software and an updated dashboard. What's more, the electric truck is available through local DAF dealers. VDL is ready for the future: the production facilities have been brought up to date and the CF Electric will be taken into production. “We are enormously proud to be part of the development of this innovative and sustainable vehicle and that, as the European leader in the field of the electrification of heavy transport, we are producing this electric truck in series for DAF Trucks”, says VDL Groep's president and CEO Willem van der Leegte.
In June 2019, a month after its launch, the DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power was named Green Truck Logistics Solution 2019, a prestigious award for the deployment of promising, emerging technologies for innovative, sustainable logistics in Europe. More and more cities have expressed their intention to allow only emission-free and low-noise vehicles in their centres in the future. The DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power is the perfect answer.

Phased start-up of series production
Patrick Smit, director of VDL Bus Chassis in Eindhoven, where the e-truck is assembled: “To guarantee every vehicle's quality, we won't rush into starting the series production.”  The CF Electric truck is currently available for customers in the Netherlands, Belgium and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. Depending on the local charging infrastructure and after-sales possibilities, marketing the truck in other parts of Europe will be considered. 

Business case
The deployment of the CF Electric has helped customers determine the business case of an electric truck and to experience what its use means in daily practice. Whereas only a limited part of the available range of 100 kilometres with their CF Electric was used in the first weeks of operations, some freight forwarders now drive up to approximately 300 kilometres a day with the vehicle. “It's a question of planning the trips smartly”, says Patrick Smit of VDL. “The ability to recharge batteries quickly – in just over 30 minutes up to 100 percent of capacity – means that extra kilometres are available again quickly if needed.”

18 hours a day, 7 days a week
At Tinie Manders Transport, the electric truck already has more than 30,000 kilometres on its counter and drives 7 days a week from six o'clock in the morning until midnight. These are mainly shorter journeys in the Eindhoven region. “The CF Electric is just as reliable as any other DAF truck”, says co-director Eveline Manders. “Planning and driving an electric truck requires a different mindset. You have to make sure the route is adapted to the truck – and not the other way around. In addition, to ensure optimal use of the truck, it's important that you can charge during loading and unloading. If you take this into account, the electric truck is a fantastic solution for urban distribution.”

About the DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power
The DAF CF Electric VDL E-Power is a fully electric 4x2 cab, developed for distribution traffic in urban areas with single or double-axle trailers and GVWs of up to 37 tonnes. The truck is based on the DAF CF –'International Truck of the Year 2018' – and operates fully electric thanks to VDL's E-Power Technology. The core of the intelligent drive unit is a 210 kilowatt electric motor that gets its power from a lithium-ion battery pack with a total capacity of 170 kilowatt hours. The CF Electric is suitable for transporting large volumes within urban distribution. 

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