Navistar signals plans for electric Class 8, unveils ePTO

Navistar is signalling plans to introduce a Class 8 battery-electric truck, adding to the medium-duty eMV that was introduced in 2021.

The news emerged at ACT Expo, where the OEM unveiled optional factory-installed ePower and an electric power take-off (ePTO) to support an array of battery-driven applications.

“We will be in production in ’24. We’ll probably have some demos out sometime in ’23,” said Trish Reed, vice-president – zero emissions, when asked about timelines for the Class 8.

Electric International truck and IC bus models have already logged a collective 1 million miles (1.6 million km), which the company says equates to reducing carbon emissions by more than 800 metric tons. About 70 eMVs are now in customer hands, delivering an average operating range of 135 miles (217 km) before recharging.

“We are committed to the accelerated adoption and development of battery-electric vehicle solutions to best serve our customers’ needs while committing to a more sustainable future for all,” said Goran Nyberg, Navistar executive vice-president – commercial operations.

Expanded applications

The new ePower electrical system will pull power directly from the truck’s battery pack and establishes a foundation for electric transport refrigeration units (eTRU). And the ePTO will play a key role in applications such as trucks with booms or concrete mixers. It pulls power from the vehicle’s battery pack and uses an electric motor to convert power for other systems.

“In less than two years, we have partnered with customers to expand the original box truck application of the eMV Series into electric bucket trucks, mini mixers, stake dumps, utility vehicles and more,” said Debbie Shust, vice-president, medium-duty truck business.

Altec is currently piloting a bucket truck that leans on the ePTO, and will order additional trucks for upfitting in 2023.

“When we started this journey we really thought the primary application or segment would be a dry van box,” Reed said. “That’s not the way it’s played out. We do a lot of business with truck equipment manufacturers.”

Its battery placements also become particularly important in such vehicles as bodybuilders and upfitters look for ways to add various components and tools.

“The truck equipment manufacturers are very flexible to think about how they need to modify how their bodies are structured to work with us,” Reed said.

Early lessons

Several lessons have been learned through the electric vehicle rollouts that have occurred so far.

“It really comes back to starting the process early with the customer on the infrastructure and charging. The other lesson is how important the driver training is – and helping drivers with their three stages of regenerative braking,” she added.

The latter training even plays a role in plans for charging infrastructure, helping to determine the number of chargers that are needed. Navistar is also partnering with Quanta Services — described as the largest specialty electric power grid infrastructure solutions company in North America — to provide power-related engineering, construction and maintenance services, and to assess infrastructure.

The OEM’s consulting teams emphasize the need to ensure chargers and vehicles are interoperable, too.

“There’s not that standardization out there today,” Reed said. “You don’t go to Costco and buy a charger for this.”

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