Ahola Transport has taken yet another step towards greener logistics by becoming the first company to test and pilot the VAK eTrailer semi-trailer. The eTrailer features an electric assist axle that not only recovers trailer braking energy but also contributes to fuel savings and emissions reduction.
Åke Nyblom, the Managing Director of Ahola Transport, expresses his excitement about this groundbreaking development, stating, "We are happy to say that this is another step towards greener logistics, where every component is crucial to the end result." The decision to embrace the eTrailer aligns with Ahola Transport's commitment to sustainable transportation.
The VAK eTrailer was publicly unveiled for the first time at the Kuljetus 2023 transport fair in Jyväskylä this week. Following the fair, the pilot trailer will be taken into operative use by Ahola Transport, enabling the assessment of the eTrailer's performance and potential benefits.
The concept of an electric assistive axle was conceived by Ahola Transport at the end of 2020. From that point forward, the company actively searched for a suitable partner for development work. Collaborating closely together with VAK and other organizations involved in the research project, Ahola Transport transformed its vision into a reality.
Nyblom expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration, saying, "It has been great to see our idea become reality in cooperation with VAK and other organizations involved in the research project." This successful partnership demonstrates the power of collaboration in driving innovation and advancing sustainable solutions within the transport industry.
Positive results from simulating the eTrailer
The VAK eTrailer project was completed in August 2022, following positive results from simulation runs conducted in the test laboratory. Fuel savings of 5-10% were achieved during laboratory tests. The research project involved several partners, including Ahola Transport (providing driving data), SAF-Holland (E-axis), Valmet Automotive EV Power Oy (battery modules), EPEC (power electronics and control systems), Turku University of Applied Sciences (engine laboratory), Scania (test drives), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (research institute), and Traficom (legislation). The research project received support from Business Finland.
After the research phase, a pilot unit was built for Ahola Transport in early 2023. Throughout the spring, the trailer underwent testing at various locations, such as Alastaro Motor Speedway, to ensure its functionality. Test drives were also conducted on the first road between Turku and Salo. The trial runs with assistance achieved fuel savings of approximately 5-10% compared to runs without assistance.
The test runs have successfully validated the system's functionality in various situations, including energy recovery during coasting and braking, assistance with starting, and uphill climbs. With the assistance, the vehicle combination exhibited an acceleration improvement of approximately 20% from 0 to 70 km/h, while driving uphill resulted in a slowdown of about 10% less compared to situations without assistance.
By taking the VAK eTrailer into use, Ahola Transport aims to achieve greater fuel efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and contribute to a more environmentally friendly future. The tests of the first eTrailer will provide valuable insights into the trailer’s performance, reliability, and potential for wider implementation within the company's operations.