Modular approach makes e-vans cost-effective

July 30, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Modular approach makes e-vans cost-effective
For emission-free urban delivery traffic, there is no need to wait for spectacular technological breakthroughs; combustion engines can already be replaced with today's technology. What matters are smart design solutions that give users a wide range of uses at low cost. In a research project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT (Aachen, Germany) has developed a modular solution for light electric commercial vehicles that can be manufactured and deployed in a very cost-effective manner.

The vehicle, which Fraunhofer IPT has developed together with partners in the project "Construction kit for loader wagon systems", can be combined with a different superstructure depending on the transport task. Since this superstructure can be exchanged flexibly and quickly, companies can use the same vehicle underbody for different transport tasks within a company: For example, if a carpenter drives to a customer, he uses the body with a drawer-shelf system for his tools; if he delivers furniture, he needs a larger loading area and can use a platform truck with clamping systems.

The project consortium even goes one step further: the modular construction kit offers the opportunity for several companies to share a fleet according to the Car-Sharing principle. High investment costs for the individual company can be significantly reduced, vehicle downtimes can be reduced and less parking space is required for parking unused vehicles.

The modular concept reduces the number of actually used e-vehicles and thus lowers the high investment costs, which are incurred in particular for the acquisition of high-performance lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to the modular design of the installation space, which is geared to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, economies of scale can be achieved even in the production of initially small numbers of vehicles.

The project consortium has taken various scenarios for the use of electric light commercial vehicles into account: from craftsmen's workshops and maintenance companies to the transport of foodstuffs and medicines. Together with companies, the researchers initially defined requirements for the vehicles such as dimensions, power connection, load securing, cooling and storage system. In order to meet these requirements, they were bundled into different categories such as easy cleaning or simple loading.

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