There are about 250 manufacturers of heavy industrial vehicles worldwide but most do not make EVs. Between them they will make about 700,000 of these vehicles in 2010. Most participants have under $20 million sales yearly. Mid-sized companies have largely vanished in line with marketing theory for maturing markets. In moving to electrification their interests align with those developing heavy military electric vehicles such as the US Military Automotive Research Center and the $30 billion BAE Systems.
This heavy industrial vehicle industry was characterised by a dash for market leadership as the market matured, with frequent purchases of competitors. Many participants seek global reach with manufacturing in major markets.
Some promote a global brand to support this. Others diffuse their image over many brand names and even have competing subsidiaries. Some specialise in the largest or the smallest machines, in ICE or EV power.
By 2015, the demand for heavy industrial electric vehicles will be comparable to that for light industrial/commercial electric vehicles as shown below.
Global market value for heavy industrial electric vehicles vs. light industrial/commercial electric vehicles in 2015
Source IDTechEx report, Electric Vehicles 2010-2020.
Hybrids are the new growth market
Potential sales growth of heavy industrial vehicles mainly lies outside the saturated market of forklifts where most are already pure electric vehicles. Several manufactures now offer lithium battery options, to get away from the tyranny of one battery set in use, one cooling down and one charging per vehicle. The rest are still powered by lead acid batteries.
The growth potential comes because hybrid technology is of great relevance to heavy outdoor vehicles, where it is little used at present. It is starting to be eagerly adopted, now it is both affordable and reliable, because of the need for high power delivery for long periods of time and frequent stop-start. A hybrid heavy electric vehicle for relatively long range outdoor use outperforms the traditional type while providing cost saving as well. For example, it can deliver higher torque from stationary. Indeed, heavy mover Caterpillar CAT of the USA now has several diesel electric series-hybrid heavy tractors and bulldozers. Some of the large hybrids have no traction battery and are like diesel electric trains: others have large traction batteries to balance load and manage with a smaller diesel engine. Large lithium ion batteries are provided by Everspring Global Ltd and others. Siemens AG has expertise in both types of power train as well as supplying charging infrastructure for plug in vehicles.
Caterpillar CAT series hybrid diesel electric bulldozer
Source: Caterpillar CAT
Electric vs pneumatic hybrids
There are several options here. Some heavy electric vehicles use diesel electric powertrains reminiscent of those in locomotives and large ships and some use a design more similar to the power train of a hybrid bus.
On the other hand, hydraulic hybrids are similar to electric hybrids, but they store energy captured from braking not in batteries but in hydraulic fluid. The "accumulator" for the hydraulics stores compressed fluid which when released powers a hydraulic motor to provide power to the wheels of the vehicles during acceleration. The weight of the fluid is a problem for downsizing to car powertrains, though attempts have been made.
John Kargul, EPA's Director of Technology Transfer points out that hydraulic hybrids are 70% more efficient than traditional Class 6 trucks compared to less than 25% efficiency increase for electric hybrids during a cycle of acceleration to 35 mph and then braking back to zero mph.
Manufacturer of these power trains, Eaton Corporation, believes that they are well suited to inner-city delivery or garbage collection trucks where vehicles are frequently starting and stopping. 50% fuel savings are available, according to the EPA. By contrast, Fiat Group, a leader in agricultural and earthmoving vehicles under the New Holland and other banners, is energetically developing electric power trains.
Hotel facilities and auxiliary power
On the other hand, a hybrid electric refrigerated truck can run the compressors for the refrigerated box off battery electricity, reducing idle time, but cannot do the same with hydraulic systems. So called "hotel facilities" and auxiliary power for machines are provided by stationary hybrid military vehicles, even when the engine is not turning.
BAE Systems is a leader in these power trains and Afs Trinity Power Corporation has advanced hybrid power systems with fast ultracapacitor storage. Cost reduction is more easily achieved with electric traction. Indeed, KPIT Cummins of India has just announced an affordable hybrid electric conversion for larger vehicles. As a result, Pike Research says the hydraulic hybrids are likely to grow within specific niches (garbage trucks, inner-city delivery trucks, shuttle buses), but will likely find difficulty breaking out of those niches.
Other advances with large hybrid vehicles
Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff Levant Power Corporation has shown that energy harvesting shock absorbers in large vehicles can each generate as much as one kilowatt of energy. Large vehicles have huge areas available for embedded photovoltaics for electricity generation and harvesting vibration and exhaust heat are very attractive too. Work is proceeding apace with printed electronics and electrics (T-Ink., Inc focussing on electric vehicles) and wireless actuators and sensors (CEHMS) and even lighting.
Unique new event
At the unique event Future of Electric Vehicles in San Jose California December 7-8, electric vehicles by land, sea and air are all covered, with emphasis on future breakthroughs.
Nearly all of the leading manufacturers mentioned above will be presenting plus many others from India, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, the USA and elsewhere. It is a truly international event covering the whole picture and this is reflected in many delegates already signed up from Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and other countries across the whole world.
Far from being obsessed with cars, the event will cover the other types of land, water and air electric vehicle, military and non-military that make the electric vehicle market double that for electric cars alone. The advanced components, smart skins and composite structures will be useful for all of them: experience needs to be shared. This is particularly attractive to those seeking profitable niches and benchmarks from allied industries.
The events will include a two day conference and exhibition, masterclasses, and tours to local area companies. Hear from many exciting speakers including Fiat, Nissan, NASA, Siemens, and many more. Tianjin Polytechnic University in China and BMW, Nissan, Siemens AG and Fiat Group present. Early Bird Bookers get a free copy of the new $3000 report, "Electric Buses and Taxis 2011-2021" and there are visits to Kleenspeed (200 mph Formula One pure electric racer, family EVs) and SunPods (solar powered charging stations).