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Soon-to-be-released electric semi trailer provides “the fuel economy you’d get if you were bobtailing your tractor,” says company executive 

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A newly developed electric semi trailer can boost the fuel economy of tractor trailer by nearly 37%, company executives claim. 

Range Energy has developed a 53 foot electric semi trailer with its own 200kWn battery, an 800 volt e-axle powertrain that can provide 10,326 lb-ft of torque to the rear trailer wheels, an electric rear lift gate, and electric landing gear. The trailer also features a “shopping cart mode,” which allows people to push the trailer by hand to move it around the truck yard. 

The electric trailer is designed to work with traditional diesel fueled and newer electric semi trucks without any need for modification and works through the use of a ‘smart’ kingpin. This kingpin senses the need for acceleration and braking that the trailer puts on the truck, and uses the trailer’s electric motor to help lessen the load, reported New Atlas.

The electric trailer has undergone fuel economy testing by Mesilla Valley Transportation Solutions, where it demonstrated a fuel economy boost of 3.25 mpg – a 36.9% efficiency gain as compared to standard fuel consumption by a semi truck. 

“We’re essentially matching the fuel economy you’d get if you were bobtailing your tractor,” Range CRO and founder Ali Javidan said. “In a highly loaded city drive cycle, that number’s actually 48%,” says Javidan, “on a mixed highway and city cycle, it’s 41%, and if we’re looking at just over the road long-haul trucking, it’s a little bit lower than that.”

The fuel economy tests were performed on a “25.5-mile (41-km) urban/highway loop at approximately 59,000 lb (26,760 kg) gross vehicle weight and 60-mph (96.5-km/h) top speeds across multiple scenarios including stop/go and steady-speed portions.”

Even beyond the 200 mile range expected for the battery of the trailer, Range says their trailer can boost fuel economy by 10-15% through energy captured and released by regenerative braking. The trailer takes 10.5 hours to charge on an AC connection, but only 45 minutes on a 350-kW DC fast charger.

Even if the trailer fails during use, Range executives say it will be worth using. 

“It’s still a trailer, we default as a trailer,” said Javidan. “One of the analogies the guys use is that we’re like an escalator. We help you get up to the top, but if we fail, we’re still stairs … Worst case scenario, if all the Silicon Valley bullsh#t fails, it’s still a trailer.”

“We are beginning to deploy these with our first customers this year, and the goal here is to start scale production in 2024, probably late 2024,” said Javidan. “We’ll start seeing these things in volume on the roadways, I’d say, in early 2025.”

No price information has been released for the trailers.

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