In a significant stride towards sustainable logistics, BMW Group Logistik, in partnership with technology pioneer Trailer Dynamics, has successfully trialed an electrically powered semi-trailer across diverse terrains and distances. This real-world logistics experiment yielded impressive results, with the diesel truck recording an average fuel savings of over 46% on short to medium routes and surpassing 48% on longer hauls.
The electric semi-trailer, distinct from its conventional counterparts, is equipped with its own battery and an electric drive axle. This unique feature not only aids the truck’s engine but also ensures optimal fuel economy by maintaining an ideal load ratio. This is achieved through integrated sensors on the kingpin that connects the tractor to the trailer. Moreover, the e-trailer’s powered axle offers additional thrust during start-ups and on inclines. This ensures that even if the e-trailer’s battery depletes, the diesel truck can still function efficiently.
During the four-day pilot tests around BMW Group’s Dingolfing location, the e-trailer demonstrated its prowess over challenging route topographies. These tests, conducted with logistics service provider Gahr International, covered up to 250 kilometers daily on highways and primary roads. The data collected revealed a notable reduction in diesel consumption by 46.59%.
The long-haul tests, spanning over 450 kilometers between Leipzig and Mamming, transported energy modules for BMW electric vehicles. These tests, primarily conducted on highways, resulted in diesel savings exceeding 48%. Notably, the e-trailer’s battery was charged using 100% green energy, emphasizing the potential for a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.
Michael Nikolaides, Head of BMW Group Production Network and Logistics, commented, “As the BMW Group, we are a member of the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ of the Science-Based Targets Initiative. We are dedicated to achieving complete climate neutrality across our value chain. The pilot testing with Trailer Dynamics’ e-trailer has proven that such electrified semi-trailers can drastically cut down the fuel consumption of standard diesel tractors and enhance the range of e-trucks.“
However, it’s essential to note the challenges. The e-trailers, due to their additional components, are heavier, which could affect their payload. But, potential increases in the permissible total weight for trailers in the EU could offset this. While the initial costs of e-trailers might be higher, the reduced operating expenses make them a viable option for long-term use.
Abdullah Jaber, CEO and Managing Director of Trailer Dynamics GmbH, shared his vision, “Our goal is to significantly contribute to decarbonizing the economy with e-trailers and champion sustainable, ideally zero-emission, logistics. With partners like BMW and forwarding agents Gahr International and Elflein Spedition, we are moving closer to realizing this vision.“
The successful pilot projects of the visionary e-trailer underscore BMW Group’s commitment to their ‘Green Transport Logistics’ strategy. As the automotive industry evolves, it’s evident that innovative technologies in transport logistics will play a pivotal role in reducing carbon footprints and shaping a sustainable future.