All charged up

July 1, 2008
The price for gasoline was $8 per gallon in the United Kingdom when the Commercial Vehicle Show was held April 15-17 in Birmingham, England. The price

The price for gasoline was $8 per gallon in the United Kingdom when the Commercial Vehicle Show was held April 15-17 in Birmingham, England. The price is almost $9 per gallon now. Not surprisingly, among the biggest attractions at the show were trucks that require no petrol.

Electrically powered trucks were particularly prominent, including one company that is planning to market in the United States later this year. Smith Electric Vehicles will be offering vehicles such as the Smith Faraday II, shown in the photo to the right. The company is billing the vehicle as one being “built in the USA for the USA.” The company has a 70,000-sq-ft facility in Fresno, California. An East Coast plant is scheduled to follow.

Initially Smith will convert Ford F Series (450, 550, and 650) trucks to electric power. While not hybrids, small diesel engines could be placed onboard to power ancillary equipment.

The 2008 CV Show was the largest ever held in the UK and attracted an audience of 28,415 business visitors, an increase of more than 1,000 when compared with the 2007 show.

The next Commercial Vehicle Show will be held April 28-30, 2009 at the National Exhibit Centre in Birmingham.

Here are highlights from this year's event:

Zeroed. That is what happens to the emissions coming from the truck — and to the road tax and congestion charge that the owner of the truck has to pay — when the chassis is powered by electricity instead of an internal combustion engine. Emissions and taxes go to zero.

Electric power begins to make sense in an environment like London where the incentive to switch from gasoline or diesel goes beyond the price of gasoline — which has gone beyond $8 per gallon. Truck operators also pay a weekly emissions tax — the dirtier the engine, the greater the tax. They also pay a congestion tax, a levy that can be waived for electric vehicles.

Zeroed Ltd, Kingston upon Hull, used the Commercial Vehicle Show to display its zero-emission vehicles — the results of a collaborative effort between multiple companies to produce totally electric medium-duty delivery trucks.

This Isuzu chassis is an example of that effort. Zeroed provided the electric motor, Munitram the batteries, and Paneltex the van body and upfit.

The Isuzu chassis was delivered without engine or transmission. Instead, the truck is equipped with electric motor and lithium ion phosphate batteries.

From the perspective of the body installer — and the customer — the conversion does not interfere with mounting the van body. All components are either inside the engine compartment or below the frame rails.

Electric bus was another vehicle on display at the Zeroed exhibit. Equipped with 800 kilos of batteries, the bus can travel approximately 120 miles between charges. The batteries can be recharged in about an hour. This bus has been in operation for five years.

Electric refrigerated trucks are an option at Solomon Commercials Ltd in Haslingden, Rossendale, Lancashire. The truck shown here, however, is conventionally powered. Mounted on a Mercedes cutaway, it is equipped for home delivery with a GAH refrigeration unit. Dry goods are transported in the front compartments, while refrigerated (37° F) and frozen foods are carried in the rear compartments.

Doors are built into the body only on the curbside. A rod is used for retrieving bins that are otherwise out of the driver's reach. Each bin is barcoded at the warehouse, and the truck is loaded to coordinate with the route.

The body is sandwich construction — a polyurethane foam core with fiberglass sheets forming the inside and outside surfaces.

They are all plastic. A trio of companies combined to promote the use of polyethylene for truck body and truck accessory production. John Dennis Coachworks, Strongs Plastic Products, and PolyBilt Europe teamed up to show the versatility of polyethylene as a building material. Strongs Plastic Products works in conjunction with John Dennis Coachworks to produce the bodies. In the foreground of this photo are two slip-in bodies built for light-duty Ford trucks.

Another application is this polyethylene delivery van (sans roll-up doors) mounted on a Ford Transit cutaway chassis. The sheets that the companies use to produce the bodies range from 3 mm to 50 mm thick (1/8"-2"). They are 100% recyclable, an advantage over some types of fiberglass.

Polyethylene service body is made of sheet material that has been cut to size. The panels are not fastened with adhesive. Instead, individual pieces are welded together using the same technology that PolyBilt, based in Orlando, Florida, employs here in the United States to build water tanks that are installed in fire apparatus.

UPS tests zero-emission vehicle

UPS has begun to test the Modec electric vehicle that will operate from the Camden facility within London's Low Emission Zone. UPS operates more than 1,600 hybrid electric, hybrid hydraulic, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and propane-powered vehicles globally. Among the advantages of an electric truck operated in London is the fact that it is exempt from the congestion charge, road tax, and operator license that are assessed on conventionally fueled trucks.

This truck displayed here is the first of its kind to effectively harness the power of modern, high energy batteries to meet the medium range, high performance requirements of hard working, urban delivery vehicles, Modec says. Batteries are stored in removable cassettes. Standard configurations include 52 kWh lithium iron phosphate cell battery packs capable of delivering 60 miles of service and an 86 kWh sodium nickel chloride pack that can go 100 miles of service under typical delivery operations. Modec is based in Coventry, England.

Saving gas, but adding weight. An electric truck carries a weight premium, making any weight savings that a truck body manufacturer can achieve more important than ever. Refrigerated Vehicles Ltd (RVL) has, through a series of adjustments such as a redesigned subframe, helped reduce overall weight of this electric refrigerated truck by 250 kg (551 pounds). The all-electric, zero-emission truck was developed in conjunction with Italian electric powered vehicle manufacturer, Micro-Vett for a supermarket's home delivery operation within central London. In addition to the electrically powered engine, the vehicle includes an electric refrigeration system.

The body includes RVL's new modular Triple Rear Door concept that provides access to the load compartment from the rear. This special vacuum-formed door assembly has been developed to minimize weight — up to 175kg (386 pounds) over a standard rear frame and door assembly. RVL is in East Sussex, United Kingdom.

Van within a van…Nissan displayed this refrigerated van body mounted within its Interstar SE van. The body is made of molded modular panels. The 80 mm insulated panels are covered with high-impact fiberglass with smooth surfaces for easy cleaning. The van body can be accessed through either the side or rear swing doors.

The Nissan Interstar SE is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Coupled with a six-speed manual transmission, the van has a maximum cruising speed of 89 mph.

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming…to deliver the mail. This fully functioning mobile post office is built by LDV Group, a chassis manufacturer based in Birmingham but owned by the Russian Gaz Group. Forty vehicles of this type will soon be in service.

LDV designs, manufactures, and distributes the Maxus light-duty vehicle line and modified this vehicle to deliver the mail to rural communities across the UK. It was built on the Maxus long wheelbase 95PS panel van by the company's special vehicle operations department.

A three-year joint project between Post Office Limited and LDV Group, the dedicated rural mobile van comes fully equipped with everything one would expect to see at the local post office. Customers enter the mobile unit via the rear door. The unit can accommodate up to six adults and includes provisions for wheelchair access. The interior is fully insulated and includes heating and ventilation for the comfort of the customers and counter clerk.

A mobile communication system is installed for use in remote locations. Information can then be transferred remotely via a wireless modem and then fully downloaded when the vehicle returns to base, where the auxiliary batteries are recharged overnight.

LDV originally was formed in 1993 as Leyland DAF Vans Ltd. The operation later changed its name to LDV Group Ltd and has been owned by the Gaz Group since July 2006.

The weight savings of an aluminum subframe helps this refrigerated van body achieve a 1,200 kg- (2,645-lb) payload rating on a 3.5-tonne (7,716-lb) GVW truck. The composite van uses three-element sandwich construction and pultrusion rails to further reduce body weight. It is a product of the Trumac Group, Westbury, Wiltshire.

A rapid approach to selling dump bodies. The Fruehauf name is alive and well in the UK — and a new company has been added to that name. Fruehauf Rigids Ltd was formed recently to provide quick production and mounting of dump bodies. How quick? Under the company's “Formula Fruehauf” program, a customer can book a build slot at the Fruehauf plant in Grantham within three days. When the body has been completed, the customer can then bring his chassis to the plant to be mounted while he waits — typically within two hours.

“If you compare the hour or so it takes the local tire dealer to change four tires on your car to the six seconds that it takes Ferrari on a Formula 1 car, you realize it is just a matter of design, equipment, and training,” says Niall Wordsworth, joint managing director.

The Formula Fruehauf concept works as long as the customer wants one of Fruehauf's standard range of bodies and nothing more exotic than conventional bolt-on options. The company, however, estimates that those standard models and bolt-on options will allow it to serve at least 75% of the dump body market.

The program is based on market research that showed dump body customers in the U K were dissatisfied with lead times in the range of 8-10 weeks. In response, Fruehauf developed three basic dump body models designed for an installation process that is performed by a team of installers. The team performs multiple installation functions simultaneously, rather than sequentially, in order to reduce mounting times to one-two hours.

The bodies available through the Formula Fruehauf program include a 23-cu-yd aluminum bathtub dump with reinforced floor, a 24-cu-yd insulated aluminum body with 60/40 split air-operated bottom door, and a 20-cu-yd steel body with top hinged tailgate and air-operated locking bar.

The aluminum bodies will be manufactured on an existing assembly line that can produce 25 bodies per week. The steel bodies will be manufactured on a new line that Fruehauf has installed at a cost in excess of £500,000 ($1,000,000). The line includes a new press brake and high-definition plasma table, both of which are able to process steel up to 12 meters (39.37 feet) long. The line can produce eight bodies per week.

Optimum temperature control and increased body stability were the objective of the changes Krone has made to its Cool Liner refrigerated vans.

The main modifications that Krone introduced concern the front wall and the sidewall areas together with a redesigned rear frame. The thickness of the front wall, previously 50 mm, is now 60 mm (2.36 inches) over the entire width in the central recessed area for the air return profiles. This not only means a K-value improvement, but at the same time increases the stability of the front wall. An additional advantage: the reinforcement provides a full return air cross-section area over the entire inner width of the trailer. Additionally, the thicker front wall allows stronger connection with the side panels.

Krone reinforced the lower front wall corners to accommodate the forces that occur during coupling and uncoupling. An additional new component is the tiltable protection plate: The tilting mechanism allows cleaning to meet HACCP requirements. Also, it allows easier access to the refrigeration unit during maintenance work.

The new feature of the sidewalls is a stronger and higher exterior profile. This new corner profile has clearly wider bonding surfaces than the previous profile with its bevelled edges and constitutes enhanced corner stiffness and a demonstrably improved overall rigidity of the box against torsion and bending. In addition, the new framing profile improves the breakaway resistance against separation and damage, which results in a robust general appearance. Beside the outer framing profiles, the inner framing profile between the roof and the sidewalls is renewed, and Krone additionally uses inner angles glued into place in the new Cool Liner range.

Aerodynamic trailer from Gray and Adams Ltd includes radiused front end, drag-reducing side skirts, and redesigned roof at the rear to smooth airflow. The company is based in Fraserburgh, Scotland, and has three additional manufacturing plants in the U K and Ireland.

Swing-door, open-side trailers are the niche for Ab Ekeri Oy, a trailer manufacturer in Kållby, Finland. Designed for quick loading and unloading, the multiple doors swing open until the entire length of the trailer is open. The design is even available as a reefer, including mult-temp operations in which refrigerated goods can be unloaded from the rear and dry goods from the side. Made of 65 mm (2½") insulated panels, Ekeri insulated trailers can operate at up to -25° C (-13° F). The company also offers EkeGuard, an electronic surveillance system that integrates central locking and alarm systems, as well as monitoring trailer suspension levels, axle loads, and temperature control.

Schmitz Cargobull awarded “Best of European Business” of medium-sized companies

Schmitz Cargobull has been named one of the fastest growing companies in Europe in terms of profit.

The jury of the award “Best of European Business” chose Schmitz Cargobull as the winner in the category of medium-sized companies in Germany. Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, together with their media partners of CNN, Financial Times Germany, and Manager-Magazin, awarded this prize in Berlin to the most successful German companies in the categories of “Profitable Growth” and “Cross-Border Acquisitions”. The winners are now qualified for the European Final.

The experts analyzed the growth for the years 2002 to 2006. In addition, key publicly available financial figures and strategic factors were taken as a basis for the decision, according to the press release made by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

Schmitz Cargobull AG produced more than 50,000 vehicles in the business year 2006/2007 (1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007), up 41% percent.

Mid-size sweeper. Scarab Minor VM is an in-between sized hydrostatic street sweeper — a compact unit, yet one capable traveling 40 mph on city streets. Built as a single unit (chassis, cab, and equipment), the sweeper is powered by a 3-liter turbodiesel. The chassis, designed specifically for sweeper applications, has a 3.5-tonne (4,409-pound) GVW rating. The cab has been redesigned with new doors and windows for improved visibility. It is a product of Scarab Sweepers Ltd, Marden Tonbridge, Kent.

ArvinMeritor presents lightweight trailer suspension

ArvinMeritor's European Trailer Systems business unveiled its next generation cast suspension (CS) trailer suspension at the Birmingham Show.

The suspension features cast steel trailing arms that are rigidly attached to the axle providing a protective axle “grip” to extend the axle life due to its stress reduced design.

The direct trailing arm joint eliminates U-bolts, removing maintenance and weight. The use of cast steel allows the trailing arms to be shaped around the brake and wheel end permitting fitment of disc or drum brakes. The trailing arms will exceed the life of the running gear.

Ultimate demountable? Most demountable bodies are relatively simple. Not so the ditch and sewer cleaner from Whale Tankers, Ravenshaw, Solihull, West Midlands. Using the company's Quick Change Body system, the body can be replaced with a vacuum tank, dump, or other type of body.