BUYERS GUIDE - MOTORHOMES
Well known light commercial chassis and suspension maker AL-KO has teamed up with German electric propulsion specialist company, Huber Automotive, to produce new hybrid chassis for light commercials and motorhomes, and an electric trailer chassis.
The Hybrid Power Chassis enables emission-free, all-electric and internal combustion engine (ICE) hybrid operation. It combines a Fiat Ducato ‘powerhead’ – cab and ICE module – with an AL-KO chassis that houses a Huber battery pack and an electric rear drive axle.
With a gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of 3.5-5.0 tonnes, the Hybrid Power Chassis can provide up to 100km of zero-emission, urban electric drive and hybrid ICE/electric drive for longer journeys.
The proved AL-KO chassis has been used for several years to adapt some front-wheel-drive light truck cab/diesel modules for light commercial and motorhome applications. The front wheel drive design allows the rear axle (or axles) to be ‘dead’, with potentially very low floor height, for volume bodies or easy loading and unloading access.
AL-KO chassis have been fitted to many such Fiat Ducato vehicles in Australia.
The Hybrid Power Chassis takes this configuration to a different level, because its electrified rear axle, with an output of approximately 90kW, can be switched on when needed. Battery power for the electric motor comes from one or, optionally, two battery packs.
In addition to its ability to operate in emissions-free mode the Hybrid Power Chassis has acceleration and operating economy benefits common to all hybrid vehicles, as well as 4WD operation when required, for additional traction. The on-board batteries can also be used to operate electrical equipment and to power motorhome demands, including off-grid air conditioning.
The Hybrid Power Chassis made its world premiere at the global IAA 2018 show and was given a limited release in mid-2020, in Germany. Refinements include plug-in recharging from mains power.
There is currently no release timing for the Australian market, but we’ll keep monitoring the situation.
Check out the system operation in this Huber video:
Called the ‘trailer of the future’, Huber’s latest development of the Huber E-Drive family is a trailer-mounted, powered axle, based on a 48V electric motor/transmission and modular battery packs. This low-profile system can be installed in almost any trailer chassis, Huber said.
Equipped with intelligent sensors, the trailer is said to ‘know’ where it is in relation to its towing vehicle, at all times.
The E-Drive trailer is designed to assist its towing vehicle with electric drive, thus increasing the range of an electric, hybrid or ICE tow vehicle.
As soon as the E-Drive sensors detect a speed reduction, the system switches from drive to recuperation and puts energy into the battery pack, while also helping to slow the combination.
Huber‘s E-Drive is designed reduce or eliminate trailer sway and jack-knifing, whether initiated by road conditions or sudden, evasive manoeuvres. The intelligent Huber control system can operate optionally available ‘Torque Vectoring’ that provides individual speed control for each trailer wheel, similar to the operation of electronic stability control (ESC).
The electric drive system can also be used as a starting and traction aid on wet or slippery surfaces, giving the tow vehicle a helpful ‘push’.
Equipped with a WLAN control unit, the trailer can become a semi-autonomous, remote-controlled ‘self-parker’. In situations where it’s impossible to reverse-park the trailer, it can be disconnected and powered by remote hand control of its electric motor into that parking space – handy for caravaners in tight campgrounds
The trailer can also be ‘summoned’ out of that parking space and powered remotely to the rear of the tow vehicle.
As with the Hybrid Power Chassis the E-Drive trailer has ample battery capacity to power tools and equipment, or run typical caravan power demands, including off-grid air conditioning.
Another important function of the system is an optional anti-theft device. Activated via an app, the electric motor’s gearbox is electro-mechanically locked and towing by unauthorised persons is effectively prevented.
No release date for the Huber E-Drive trailer has been set, but we’ll keep onto them!