Compact Drive Unit Makes Converting Trucks Into EVs Easy

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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Much like passenger vehicles, commercial trucks will need to be converted to electric in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation. However, unlike consumer cars, fleet trucks don’t go through regular redesign cycles. This is because there simply aren’t that many breakthroughs in box-truck technology, which makes sense if you think about it.

  • German auto parts supplier ZF has released an electric drive unit to convert ICE powered trucks to EVs.
  • The CeTrax lite unit weighs just 265 lb and fits in the space of the existing engine and transmission
  • The system is capable of producing 201 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, not mention of battery placement or cost

Realizing this, German parts supplier ZF has created the new “CeTrax lite” pure-electric propulsion drive unit. Although it was crafted specifically with the Japanese market in mind, I am sure it could be utilized elsewhere in the world.

Designed for trucks with a 7.5-ton gross vehicle weight, CeTrax lite includes the electric motor, power electronics, transmission, and cooling system in a compact and light driveline unit. All together, it only weighs 265 pounds. Impressively, however, despite its diminutive dimensions, it can still churn out 201 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.

Despite its diminutive dimensions, the CeTrax lite can churn out 201 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque. | Photo: ZF

 

The idea behind the size and weight of ZF’s new electric drive unit is that a commercial truck maker could easily take an existing truck platform designed for an internal combustion engine (ICE) and replace it with the CeTrax lite. Really the only thing the truck brand would have to figure out is where to fit the battery packs. — perhaps where the fuel tanks normally were fitted.

I absolutely love that ZF is working to create solutions that allow brands to easily transform ICE vehicles into pure-electric vehicles. I just wish they’d come up with a system that would allow me to convert my old Chevy pickup into an EV. Now, that’d be cool.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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