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MAN, Krone, LKW Walter, Third Element Avation, Kempower BYD

News from February 27, 2024

MAN is planning to establish several battery repair centers across Europe, Krone and LKW Walter are revolutionizing the electronic waybill, two research projects on the range of electric vehicles and the use of electric fleets, autonomous delivery drones, and the maiden voyage of two vehicle transport ships – these are the headlines for the ninth week of the year 2024. 

MAN is planning to establish several battery repair centers across Europe, Krone and LKW Walter are revolutionizing the electronic waybill, two research projects on the range of electric vehicles and the use of electric fleets, autonomous delivery drones, and the maiden voyage of two vehicle transport ships – these are the headlines for the ninth week of the year 2024. 

News from February 27, 2024

MAN Truck & Bus is planning to set up multiple battery repair centers across Europe to enhance the maintenance and repair of batteries for electric commercial vehicles. These planned centers, to be located in eight European countries, specifically in Italy, Denmark/Norway, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Poland, and the United Kingdom, are intended to complement the existing facilities in Germany (Hannover) and Spain (Barcelona). Additional locations in other European countries are also in the planning stages. 

Investments amounting to millions are to be made over the next two years. The establishment of these so-called Battery Repair Hubs is part of the preparations for the rollout of the new MAN eTruck generation and aims to improve responsiveness to battery damage and reduce transport times. Until now, MAN Truck & Bus had to transport batteries from all over Europe to Hannover-Laatz for repair. In the future, the company plans to build a Battery Repair Hub in every market where MAN is present with battery-electric commercial vehicles. 

MAN Truck & Bus
(c) MAN Truck & Bus

Krone and LKW Walter have launched an electronic consignment note (eCMR) aimed at simplifying logistics operations. This digital solution replaces the traditional paper format, intending not only to streamline document management but also to significantly reduce paper usage. A QR code is affixed to the trailer, which can be scanned using a smartphone or other digital devices, providing easy access for all involved parties to the eCMR, the trailer's vehicle documents, and the Walter driver app "Loads Today" through the so-called Krone Smart Assistant. This app is already used by the Walter Group to manage numerous processes, such as cargo securing. Krone has already equipped the first trailers from Lkw Walter accordingly. 

LKW Walter
(c) LKW Walter

A European consortium led by the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) started the research project MINDED, with the full project title "Thermal and energy Management for Increased Driving range of an electric minibus including improved user-centric design and thermal comfort." The project focuses on investigating thermal management in electric vehicles. It will primarily test infrared heating panels, which are to be installed in an Iveco eDaily minibus. Compared to the current status quo at 0°C ambient temperature, this should result in a 20% improved range. The goal of this technology is to reduce energy consumption for heating and air conditioning through more efficient heat distribution within the vehicle and thus increasing its range. Further project plans include the development of a novel air conditioning system with a heat pump mode (based on an fossil-free compressor), exploring AI-based predictions of driving behavior, and working on optimized insulation for the interior of the vehicle. 

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(c) Iveco

The "BiFlex-Industry" project, led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, is once again exploring the use of electric vehicle fleets as flexible bidirectional sources for the power grid. The project's acronym, "BiFlex-Industry," stands for the long title "Bidirectional Flexibility through Fleet Power Plants in and around Companies." It aims to develop charging stations capable of feeding power back into the grid with customized hardware and open communication interfaces to superior control systems and electric vehicles, as well as to identify potential flexibilities. According to the project initiators, vehicle batteries, alongside stationary storage, are ideally suited for short- to medium-term balancing of load and generation in the energy system. In company fleets, batteries could buffer locally generated photovoltaic power and actively reduce peak loads. At the same time, the ability to feed power back into the grid can provide flexibility to the overarching power network – acting as a so-called fleet power plant. Initially, Fraunhofer ISE plans to implement demonstrators with 50 vehicles capable of feeding power back into the grid at seven company locations, where various relevant use cases for bidirectional charging will be explored. 

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(c) Fraunhofer

Finnish charging infrastructure specialist Kempower is set to integrate battery systems from Swedish energy storage manufacturer Polarium into its DC charging solutions for electric cars and trucks. This setup aims to enable higher charging capacities than the grid connection would typically allow by temporarily drawing additional power from the battery. Kempower's goal is also to overcome potential grid constraints, ensuring reliable and sustainable power distribution, which supports the adoption of electric vehicles. Further details about the Kempower charging station with Polarium energy storage are expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks. 

In addition, Kempower received a €10 million grant this week for its "Heavy Electric Traffic Ecosystem" program. This initiative focuses on developing charging solutions for electric trucks and heavy long-haul trucks. The program will explore future charging models and the impact of charging infrastructure for heavy traffic on the power grids. 

(c) Kempower

Valtech Mobility and the Benteler Group have signed an agreement to develop a cloud platform for the autonomous and electric Holon Mover. The Holon Mover, one of the world's first movers to meet automotive standards, was also showcased at IAA MOBILITY 2023 in Munich. The platform by Valtech Mobility and the Benteler Group will serve as a central hub for vehicle operations, facilitating communication between various interfaces such as infotainment systems and real-time tracking for operators. The Holon Mover is designed to serve not only traditional line traffic but also as an on-demand transport solution to meet users' mobility needs. It is equipped with features like an automatic ramp, securing systems, Braille script, and audiovisual communication options, accommodating up to 15 passengers. 

To further advance the series development and industrialization of the autonomous mover, the company recently announced an investment from Tasaru Mobility Investments, which is set to take a 38 percent stake in Holon. With the financial resources from Tasaru, Benteler aims to support the establishment of three production sites in Europe, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. 

Valtech Mobility GmbH/ Benteler Gruppe / Fotograf: Christian Brandes
(c) Valtech Mobility GmbH/ Benteler Gruppe / Fotograf: Christian Brandes

Third Element Aviation has received the first nationwide approval from the German Federal Aviation Office for fully autonomous commercial drone flights, launching the first commercial, fully autonomous drone delivery service. In collaboration with the Koerschulte Group and HHLA Sky, up to 80 packages per day are planned to be delivered in Lüdenscheid, Germany. The drones can carry packages weighing up to 6.5 kilograms and are equipped with four batteries powered by green electricity. According to the company, the drone can fly at speeds of up to 65 kilometers per hour (approximately 40 miles per hour) and is equipped with a parachute for safety. Its maximum flight duration is 45 minutes. The approval allows for automated flights over industrial and residential areas. 

Third Element Aviation
(c) Third Element Aviation

Measuring 199.90 meters in length and 38 meters in width, with a speed of 20 knots, the French shipping company CMA CGM recently celebrated the inaugural call of the "CMA CGM Indianapolis" in Bremerhaven, Germany. The car carrier, with its 12 flexible decks, can transport around 7,000 vehicles per voyage across the seas, powered by LNG. The RoRo ship's hybrid propulsion system, equipped with two 2,000 cubic meter LNG tanks, allows it to cover long distances on the high seas. In Bremerhaven, the vessel made history as the first to receive LNG bunkering services in the port. The LNG was supplied by a tanker from the company Gasum. Now, the vessel is heading to Singapore. 

At the same time, BYD celebrated the maiden voyage of its first electric car transporter, the BYD Explorer No. 1, also in Bremerhaven, Germany this week. The freighter is 200 meters long and is the first of a total of eight car transporter ships that BYD plans to build in the future. On its maiden voyage, the ship carried around 3,000 electric cars. 

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