Innovative drive solutions

Innovation project: Electrification of ancillary units in commercial vehicles

Up to now, ancillary units in commercial vehicles – such as air-conditioning compressors, ventilators and hydraulic pumps – have been driven by the internal combustion engine. The capacity available to drive these ancillary units is tied to the rotational speed of the internal combustion engine and cannot be controlled according to need. It is therefore necessary to design the ancillary units so that they will continue to work even if the engine speed is low. This results in an increase in the weight and size of the ancillary units. Both aspects impact the efficient operation of commercial vehicles, which also has a negative effect on fuel consumption. Therefore the electrification of ancillary unit drives promises great potential. 

The aim of the innovation project is to develop a modular electric drive system for ancillary units in commercial vehicles. This is intended to individually adjust the power for operating different ancillary units, according to need. At the same time, the weight and size of the ancillary units should be reduced.

The first step is therefore to analyze the operating conditions and power required by the individual ancillary units for different types of vehicle. This forms the basis on which different drive modules can be developed to operate individual ancillary units electronically. Thanks to an intelligent control system and interconnection between the modules and energy source, the power for each ancillary unit’s drive can be optimally adapted. The next step is to devise a concept for autonomous implementation and configuration of the drive modules in different vehicles. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, intelligent networking, energy efficiency and systems engineering. The drive system will be tested using a demonstration model and then integrated into commercial vehicles.

This project will increase the efficiency of the drives for ancillary units in vehicles. Fuel consumption will be reduced and the degree of energy efficiency will be optimized. Moreover, the weight and size of the ancillary units can be reduced. Savings in resources of up to 40% are expected. With its modular design and autonomous configuration, the drive system can be used for numerous commercial vehicles such as buses, trucks and agricultural machinery.

Project duration
01 July 2014 - 30 June 2017