Traton boss Matthias Gründler has said that the Group’s upcoming 13 litre Common Base Engine will be the last conventional power plant  developed by the Group and its brands, as the company pivots to electrification.

Speaking following the finalisation of the take over of US truck maker Navistar,  Gründler explained that the  Common Base Engine currently being developed as part of a joint operation led by Scania, is set to be installed in Scania vehicles in Europe starting early in 2022.

“After that, we will be start using the engine in both Latin and North America while its other European brand, MAN will start to use it from 2024.

Gründler said that the CBE,  will enable Traton to “build bridges to the future”, which he said will clearly be shaped by battery-electric commercial vehicles.

“It is highly efficient, which makes it an eco-friendly solution while electric trucks still have a higher total cost of ownership than diesel ones,” said Gründler.

Gründler  said that Traton’s modular system for electrified drives has been on the road since 2020, initially in city buses.

Scania began series production of its first electric truck in September last year, with the truck featuring a range of 250 kilometres. While the Swedish brand also offers a plug-in hybrid truck which it says can travel 60 kilometres on electricity alone.

 “We want to become an electric leader,” Gründler said.

The German based group is putting its money where its mouth is by massively increasing the spend on R&D relating to electric mobility with plans to spend nearly $USD 1.9 billion ($AUD2.53billion)  on electicv drivetrain R&D by 2025.

“To make that happen, we are systematically shifting our development spend away from conventional drives and placing a clear emphasis on electric,” he said.

“For a long time, it looked like the race for alternative drives was anyone’s game, but now, a clear favourite is emerging and that is battery technology,” Gründler added.

Gründler explained that the kilowatt-hour price has been dropping much faster than predicted, meaning the total cost of ownership of electric trucks will quickly fall below that of their diesel counterparts.

“Electric vehicles are also cheaper to maintain and repair and this means they may already be more appealing than diesel trucks in terms of their total cost of ownership in 2025.

“By 2030, even a double-digit percentage saving is feasible which will be a crucial advantage in an industry like transportation, where margins are low.”

Gründler said that ultimately, it is up to customers, but that batteries will soon have the edge in virtually all applications.

“Even compared to fuel cells for the foreseeable future, battery-powered vehicles will be cheaper – especially in terms of their energy costs, plus, three-quarters of the output energy is used to power the drive, for Hydrogen-powered vehicles, it is only a quarter,” Gründler said.

This is a different strategy than that recently announced by its main opponent in the market, Daimler, which is developing both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles and Gründler believes that in the long run, battery-electric alone is not a feasible way to meet zero-emissions goals.

The biggest challenge, Grundler said, is charging infrastructure.

“The biggest task is to establish a powerful, cross-border rapid-charging infrastructure for long-haul transportation by 2025. This requires an enormous collective effort on the part of industry and policymakers, and we need to make a start on this here and now,” he added.

Gründler said the electrification efforts is one way Traton is preparing to face the industry’s future challenges.

“You know the environment we are operating in, the overarching climate targets have been defined for the EU and for Germany and here in Europe, we have to reduce our CO2 emissions by 55 per cent by 2030,” he said.

“A target of 65 per cent reduction is even likely for Germany and digitalisation is continuing to gain momentum with the pandemic putting wind in its sails, while automated driving is becoming a reality.”

“Our main goal  is to seek to balance the needs of human beings, the environment, and the economy in everything we do, Gründler said.

“This is something we call the People, Planet, and Performance triad. We are devising a new strategic course to do just that,” he concluded.