Technology Trends Related to the Electrification of Heavy Vehicles (trucks and buses)

From the public seminar of the Capacitors Forum



  The Capacitors Forum (chairman: University of Tokyo professor Yoichi Hori) was established in 2008, with its membership comprised of electronics manufacturers and researchers related to capacitors. The organization conducts research and collects and provides information related to the efficient use of electric energy using high-volume capacitors, and its relationship with electric vehicles (EVs) is extensive.

  The Capacitors Forum holds its annual meeting and public seminar every May. However, this year the organization was unable to hold its annual event in person due to COVID-19, but instead for the first time ever held a public forum online (via Zoom) on May 15th. Given that the public seminar was held online, there were 187 participants, a greater number than usual. In the public seminar, the organization introduced new technologies developed by capacitor suppliers as well as gave a presentation on technologies related to charging while driving.

  This report introduces the presentation given by Mr. Kenji Morita of the Japan Automobile Research Institute’s (JARI) on the Technology Trends Related to the Electrification of Heavy Vehicles. Compared to passenger vehicles, heavy vehicles (trucks and buses) see smaller effects of improved fuel efficiency through start-stop systems and optimized engine operating loads, even when equipped with hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) configurations. However, fuel efficiency can be expected to improve through the high-efficiency regeneration of braking energy. Regenerative energy is greatly affected by driving patterns, meaning that even among heavy vehicles, fuel efficiency can be expected to improve in delivery trucks, garbage trucks, and transit buses, which primarily operate in urban environments. However, it is difficult to improve fuel efficiency through energy regeneration with intercity buses or long-distance trucks that mainly drive between cities.

  Additionally, while HEV heavy vehicles are commercially available, their rate of return regarding reduced fuel costs is limited, making it difficult to recoup the increased price of these vehicles. As a result, it is expected that there will be improvement related to reducing battery and motor costs as well as improving battery performance, durability, and infrastructure. The presentation also introduced information and examples related to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and the efforts in various nations toward static ultra-fast charging technology and charge while driving (CWD) technology. In concluding his presentation, Mr. Morita spoke about the aptitude of EV technology regarding the electrification of heavy vehicles, and shared research findings indicating that heavy vehicles primarily operated in urban environments are suited for ultra-fast charging or as BEVs with swappable batteries, while intercity buses and long-distance trucks are more suited for HEVs and CWD technology.


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