My goal is to have electric trucks in every town and city!
R&D – February 2020
I invent the trucks of tomorrow
Philippe Le Brusq is an e-mobility systems engineer at Renault Trucks. He's been working on urban electric and hybrid trucks for 13 years.
« It's Toulouse on a cold, dry morning in February 2003 and I’m a student studying electronics. Just like every day, and despite the fact that my windows are closed, I’m woken up by the noise of the delivery lorry below my student room. With all the racket that truck made, I certainly didn’t need an alarm clock… a silent engine was very rarely heard in those days. But what if we had an electric revolution? One day, I’d invent a silent truck...
Fast forward to today and I’m almost there. The urban electric truck makes perfect sense ecologically, economically and socially.
Limiting CO2 emissions is a real challenge for heavy trucks
For the past 13 years, I’ve been working in the AB Volvo Group design office as an e-mobility systems engineer, and throughout that time I’ve tried to put my skills in electronics to work on developing more sustainable solutions. A less polluting form of transportation that uses less energy and is compatible with renewable energy sources is a priority and a personal goal for me! That’s because at a local level, as more and more people live in cities, it is now essential to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulates. And it’s equally imperative for us to reduce our CO2 emissions worldwide. But limiting noise pollution and making industrial vehicles more comfortable are also important goals for communities.
One of the things I’m most proud of in my work is to see that after a decade of effort, the investment of millions of euros and many abandoned prototypes, electric trucks are now in mass production at Renault Trucks. This spring, our Blainville plant (Link to another blog post: “My plant’s gone electric) near Caen began mass production of these 16-26-metric tonne trucks with a daily range of between 125 and 250 miles. They're perfectly designed for use in urban and suburban zones, especially for garbage collection or refrigerated transportation. At up to 12 metres long, they have much more of a presence than the 3.5-metric tonne vans you generally see around the city. This marks a real leap forward in technology that optimises the energy required to transport one metric tonne of goods in the urban environment. The ultimate goal is to achieve a better energy balance.
Electric trucks that recover 25% of braking energy to charge their batteries
Many innovations have contributed to getting this new model of electric truck into production. Perhaps the most important is lithium-ion battery technology, which has now reached an unprecedented level of maturity. For example, these systems can now adapt to extreme temperatures of below -15°C and above 40°C by using an innovative system that ‘wakes up’ the vehicle batteries. Braking systems have also made enormous progress: 25% of braking energy is now recovered! The bottom line is that today’s electric truck is a pure concentrate of the latest technologies.
But for all that, it’s super-simple to use. Two pedals instead of three, fewer buttons and switches than a diesel vehicle, ergonomically designed, silent, zero vibration... all the drivers who’ve tried these vehicles have been won over. I have zero doubt that the urban truck of the future will be electric, I'm sure of it!
Now in 2020, my student dream has almost become a reality... carbon-free transportation is expanding through our cities, and that can only be good for the planet. »
Philippe Le Brusq (37) is an e-mobility systems engineer. Over the last 13 years, he has been working for Renault Trucks in the Volvo Group design office. He has contributed to the design of more 20 electric and hybrid truck prototypes, and the filing of 10 patents. He lives in Lyon, and is convinced that electronics has much to contribute to more sustainable and more eco-friendly solutions for the urban transportation of tomorrow. To the point where he's made it his professional and personal ambition.