Electrification of the transportation system is closer than we think

American-based company Motiv Power Systems converts gasoline-powered trucks and commercial vehicles into electric.

1/14/16 4:00 am chumakdenis 1

While more and more electric vehicles and hybrids appear on the roads of the US and Europe, the situation with the heavier transport like trucks and commercial vehicles is not so good.

Most of the garbage trucks as well as school buses are still running on gasoline and it’s a really sad fact to notice about: the environment is polluted the most by heavy machines, not by cars.

I mean, the fact that so many people are into electric vehicles is stupendous, but electric vehicle drivers is just a drop in the ocean.

Without electric commercial vehicles global warming problem is unlikely to be solved –sounds a little bit pessimistic, isn’t it?

Luckily, there is no need to mourn, the solution to the problem has already been found: converting standard petrol trucks into plug-ins is a key to success.

The conversion is not as expensive as manufacturing and there are already players on the market –WrightSpeed, Motive Speed Systems etc. –that means the price of conversion will be even cheaper than it is now.

Well, sounds like a fair deal.

Let’s talk about one of such companies and figure out if it is so.

Motive Power Systems

Motiv is the US-based company that focuses on conversions.

The company re-equips standard petrol trucks and other commercial vehicles into plug-in hybrids with a help of some magic and their own patented all-electric powertrains.

In the end we receive something like that (pictures below).









Well, specifications really impress.

I completely have no idea what is inside this powertrain – the only thing that is known is that it can be assembled onto three different off-the-shelf chassis using off-the-shelf batteries and motors  –but Motiv’s secret sauce was good enough to help the company  receive  $8.1 million grant from the  California Energy Commission.

Motiv’s All-Electric Powertrain Upfit Package can fit the Ford E450, the Ford F59, and the Crane Carrier cab over class 8 chassis, which covers everything from box trucks to school buses and garbage trucks.

Some history

Motiv Power Systems rolled out its very first electric bus in 2013. The next year, Motiv snared $7.3 million from the Magness Investment Group. The company was just rolling out its second electric school bus and things have been popping since then.

Last September, Motiv fielded the first vehicle in a planned fleet of an electric garbage truck for Chicago, a feat that factored into a coveted Popular Science “Best of What’s New” award the following month.

Earlier this year, Motiv also paired up with Google to launch a small fleet of free electric shuttle buses in Mountain View, Google’s home base.

Motiv’s electric Powertrain control (Epcs)

Motiv’s electric Powertrain Control (ePCS) is a suite of electronic boards which uses software changes for rapidly implementing new designs with the same boards.










The company uses different, newer and less expensive battery packs by configuring the software to work with the new hardware.

This is similar to the PC world, where a new printer just needs a new driver. As the same boards are used in all of our electric trucks from 10,000lbs to over 60,000lbs, the cost comes down due to economies of scale and only having to test the software and not the hardware.

Having a CPU in the controls allows us to track the health of all the components (batteries, motors, etc) for preventive maintenance and in the longer term predictive maintenance, as Motiv’s engineers gather more use data.

Additionally, Motiv has all of the data needed for fleet management.

“With the use of software, our charger can be flexible, handling power from 120V to 480V, 1-phase or 3-phase for faster charging without requiring expensive infrastructure in the form of fast DC charging…We will also shortly be supporting V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) which is a potential revenue generator for fleets as utilities will pay them to access these batteries to reduce peak loads and keep grid frequency constant. V2G is very software intensive.”









Vehicle-to-Grid systems are on their way to becoming all the rage among vehicle fleet owners. V2G basically treats electric vehicles as mobile energy storage units, which raises all sorts of possibilities, especially when paired with renewable energy.


5540.jpgThe company has built a factory in Hayward and aims to convert 480 vehicles annually.

Also, the company intends to sell its powertrain separately – price and production date remains unknown yet.

Well, it can easily be seen that the company has high hopes.

Let’s wish them good luck with that and wait more news from them.

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