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Safely gritted: the MAN E-TGM defies the winter

 

Winter is finally over and so is the time for slippery roads. The gritting vehicles therefore return to their depots until the next onset of winter. In the Netherlands, one of them has been doing it´s job purely electrically this year. Whether this worked well despite the cold and adverse conditions? A visit to the entrepreneur Gerrit Zuurmond.

Entrepreneur Gerrit Zuurmond stands contentedly in his yard. The cold, unpredictable weather is over, the ice has thawed - and his fleet of electric trucks has coped well with the winter. In addition to an eTGE, the eTGMs have also proven to be reliable companions: The company uses three of MAN's all-electric 26-ton trucks in total. But how does it work to operate a stray vehicle in the Netherlands, where it snows relatively rarely? After all, the last comparable snowstorm there was in 2010. The answer is that there are special spreading vehicles in the Netherlands. In the event of appropriate snowfall, the construction companies will be contacted to see if they have spare capacity for their tippers. The free tippers are then provided with a retrofit system for the duration of the winter break and the silos are lashed with the spreading material on the tipping surface. The spreading drive of this structure is realized via a hydro pump flanged to the wheel hub on the last axle. This also ensures the desired proportionality between speed and spreading quantity. At De Jong Zuurmond, the spreader was mounted on the existing interchangeable bridge system for the time of the winter break.

The truck is powered by a 264 kW (360 hp) electric motor that provides a maximum torque of 3,100 Nm. Perfect, therefore, for the challenges that De Jong Zuurmond faces on a daily basis. The company specializes in the management and maintenance of Dutch trunk and waterways - and is actively committed to environmental protection. De Jong Zuurmond therefore generates the electricity for its MAN electric trucks in its own wind turbines. "With the eTGM, we have been able to strengthen our electric fleet and come a good deal closer to our goal of becoming emission-free. MAN is currently the only manufacturer that can supply us with suitable electric trucks ready for production," says entrepreneur Zuurmond. Reason enough to take a look at the first electric powered gritting vehicle in the Netherlands and gather some interesting facts around it!

An electric MAN TGM is being loaded

01

The truck’s endurance and charging behaviour

The all-electric eTGM from MAN offers a range of up to 200 kilometers, depending on the area of operation, climatic and topographical conditions. In a electric powered gritting vehicle, the battery's range is subjected to an endurance test, as the air conditioning system heats permanently to prevent the driver from freezing. Nevertheless, the electric truck has performed brilliantly in winter operations in the Netherlands. Gerrit Zuurmond chose an intelligent deployment and charging strategy for the electric powered gritting vehicle that did not even bring the battery close to its capacity limit - even in winter despite the cold. A gritting tour at Zuurmond is 100 kilometers long. At the end of the round, the truck returns to the construction site with the battery about half empty. There it is fully recharged in four hours. The vehicle then picks up new grit and sets off on the next tour. At Zuurmond, recharging is carried out using the company's own charging container. This contains batteries, which in turn are charged by wind energy and solar panels. In general, truck charging is possible either with a charging power of 22 or 44 kW with alternating current or as so-called "high-power charging" with 150 kW direct current. Power for the truck is supplied by high-performance lithium-ion batteries from the Volkswagen Group. These are located under the driver's cab above the front axle, where the diesel powertrain is located in conventional vehicles. Further batteries are located on the vehicle frame. The balance after the first winter operation of the electric powered vehicles is positive: The e-trucks have performed well across the board!

02

Special features during the journey

There are some differences between electric powered gritting vehicles and vehicles with a conventional diesel engine. Most significantly: before drivers can even start their trip, they have to unhook their truck from the charging station and check that the batteries are fully charged. Their cab is equipped with the same features as a normal truck; these electric powered trucks do not lack any comforts – from air-sprung seats to the heating system. Auxiliary units such as power steering, air compressor or air conditioning are electrically operated and controlled via the energy management system in a demand-dependent and thus energy-saving manner. Yet the most significant feature of an electric powered gritting vehicle is probably the way it drives. The vehicle’s kinetic energy resulting from thrust and braking phases is converted into electrical energy and fed back into the battery storage units. This enables its range to be noticeably increased. A display in the cockpit provides information on the current energy balance in the batteries.

An electric MAN TGM spreads salt on a road
A truck driver stands in front of a MAN eTGM

03

Driver training

It takes more than just a truck driver’s licence to climb behind the wheel of a Zuurmond electric powered gritting vehicle. The drivers have all received additional training via MAN ProfiDrive. This is specifically designed to meet the requirements for driving a fully-electronic vehicle. The course once again goes into detail about how exactly the truck is charged and how it is properly made safe in the event of an accident. Zuurmond employees are happy to take on this hurdle if it means being allowed to travel in these electric giants. Above all it is the quietness during the journey, without the immense background noise experienced in a conventional truck, that its drivers repeatedly praise. Because this electric giant can achieve everything that a conventional gritting truck can, in addition to protecting the environment.

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