Erik Hoedemaekers and Annekoos Schaap in the TNO's battery center in Helmond. Photo: (c) TNO

It’s simple on paper. Just make sure that only emission-free vehicles are allowed to deliver goods in cities and then you’re well on your way to achieving your climate targets. However, it does drive up the costs for fleet managers. A study has shown that operational costs could increase by 67%. The Dutch company XYZ Dynamics is collaborating with TNO (the independent Netherlands Organization for applied scientific research, ed.) to design a hybrid powertrain for delivery vehicles. This will enable delivery vehicles to drive electrically within the emission-free zones of a city, and outside these zones using conventional internal combustion engines. The Helmond engineering firm and TNO will soon present a report on the research into the best battery configuration for this powertrain.

Municipalities and provinces in The Netherlands are striving for emission-free deliveries by 2025. This is to be achieved by introducing what are referred to as zero-emission zones. Air quality should be significantly improved this way, especially in inner cities. The transport sector is struggling to meet these targets according to TNO. Current solutions for electric transport do not meet the required standards and moreover, operational costs are also rising sharply.

Electric powertrain

XYZ Dynamics thinks it has found the solution to this problem with what they call a hybrid powertrain – the AxLectric™. This is an extra electric powertrain that can be retrofitted to existing delivery vehicles. This solution eliminates the need to immediately electrify an entire fleet of vehicles. The driver can choose between the vehicle’s conventional or electric drive depending on the circumstances or environmental regulations.

With its many years of experience in the development of technology and extensive expertise in various fields, TNO has the right kind of knowledge to provide XYZ Dynamics with support in this project,” says the institute. XYZ Dynamics is a young company with a ‘just do it’ mentality and therefore hasn’t yet fully crystallized all the steps that may follow.”

Apart from their research activities, TNO also supports start-ups by making its research & development knowledge and laboratories available and by offering technical expertise. Erik Hoedemakers from TNO: “One of the key roles of TNO is to support Dutch companies. Our expertise, facilities and other resources can be crucial for exploring new innovations.”

Seeking the best battery

A compatible battery configuration is paramount for the hybrid powertrain. Erik Hoedemaekers (Scientist Integrator with the Powertrains research group at the TNO Traffic & Transport Unit ) and Annekoos Schaap (TU/e Bachelor student at XYZ Dynamics) are currently researching which batteries are best suited for this purpose. Peak capacity, battery load duration and charging capacity are important factors for this specific application. Results of this research will be reported shortly. The right configuration is essential for the start of a series production for the AxLectric™ powertrain.

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About the author

Author profile picture Arnoud Cornelissen has for many years been writing about science and technology in, among others, various Dutch newspapers.