Truck makers in South America are exploring gas-powered and electric trucks, such as this Volkswagen e-Delivery, the first electric truck produced and sold in Brazil.  -  Photo: Traton

Truck makers in South America are exploring gas-powered and electric trucks, such as this Volkswagen e-Delivery, the first electric truck produced and sold in Brazil.

Photo: Traton

Many South American countries enjoyed a major revival in truck sales in 2021, reports Truck & Bus Builder. Most saw major growth near the end of the year in response to economic recovery, pent-up demand, and falling levels of COVID-19 infections.

Brazil’s truck market grew almost 43%, from 91,000 to 158,000; Colombia was up 77% from 20,018 to 35,567, and Chile’s truck market improved by 59% from 10,646 to 16,898.

The outlook for many markets is for more of the same in 2022. There is considerable positive

energy within the industry at the moment, with industry-leading truck sales executives forecasting modest to strong growth with sales possibly peaking around 190,000 units.

One factor affecting the Brazilian market is that Euro 6 emissions standards go into effect in January 2023. Truck makers have been introducing a new generation of trucks that not only meet the regulations but also are more fuel-efficient and offer a variety of new safety features. Alternative fuels and drivetrains are also being explored, with some focusing on gas (natural gas and biogas), others on electric drivetrains.

Scania’s Brazil operations have already sold more than 30,000 of its new generation of trucks launched just two years ago, already compliant with new emissions standards. While Scania is heavily invested in a range of alternative fuel and power, including full electric drive systems, in Brazil it is currently focused on promoting natural and biogas as the solution for reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions.

Iveco also believes gas is an important alternative fuel for the Brazilian market. It plans to expand its Brasil Natural Power program by locally developing and producing natural-gas-powered trucks. Iveco already has approximately 2,000 gas-powered trucks in use in Latin America.

Mercedes-Benz do Brasil believes in multiple solutions for reducing emissions. Parent company Daimler Truck has already developed several commercially available alternative-fuel technologies, such as biodiesel, HVO, hybrid drive systems and more recently hydrogen fuel cells and electric, that could be brought to the South American market.

And Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus Ltda, a subsidiary of the Traton Group, last year commercially launched the e-Delivery, the first electric truck produced and sold in Brazil.

Fuel-Cell Vans Appear in Europe

Two Stellantis subsidiaries are on the cusp of introducing hydrogen-fuel-cell cargo vans.

France’s Citroën announced the first order of its ë-Jumpy Hydrogen LCV from the Suez Group. It has a range of over 400 km, supported by three carbon-fiber hydrogen tanks and a 45kW fuel cell.

Germany’s Opel produced its first light commercial fuel-cell electric vehicle, which will begin service for German appliance manufacturer Miele & Cie. The Vivaro-e Hydrogen is based on the battery-electric Vivaro-e, with a 45-kW fuel cell allowing for a range of up to 400 km. It has a maximum payload of 1,100 kg.

New Briefs from Around the World

Electric trucks in the cold: Volvo Trucks is developing a new thermal management system for its heavy-duty battery-electric trucks following rigorous climate testing in northern Sweden, near the Arctic Circle. The manufacturer conducted winter tests with the FH Electric truck close to the Arctic Circle, where average temperatures can dip to 13 degrees below zero. Battery performance tends to suffer in conditions of extreme heat or cold, so Volvo is developing a ‘Ready to Run’ feature that will allow drivers to preheat or precool the batteries and truck cab remotely via a mobile application.

Testing autonomous trucks: Italian truck-maker Iveco Group is partnering with California-based Plus to pilot-test an Iveco S-Way heavy-duty truck equipped with Plus’s autonomous driving technology. Both driver-in and Level 4 (i.e., the vehicle will have almost complete autonomy) technologies will be tested. The two companies will gather test data for improving and validating an autonomous product variant in the S-Way range.

Meritor in China: Meritor signed an agreement with China’s Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive, a 50:50 joint venture between Daimler Truck AG and Beiqi Foton Motor Co., to supply custom versions of Meritor’s long-haul tandem and rear-drive axles for heavy-duty trucks. The Meritor axles will be installed on Mercedes-Benz tractors manufactured by BFDA for the Chinese market, starting at the end of the year.

Scania 64-tonne electric truck: Scania, the Sweden Traton subsidiary, put its first fully electric 64-tonne truck on the road as part of a collaboration with Swedish chemical supplier Wibax. The three-axle electric tractor is fitted with a modified electric motor that allows it to haul a gross vehicle weight of 64 tonnes. Testing will focus on charging, battery life, and route planning on an 80-km route in northern Sweden.

Hotline Global is produced in partnership with UK-based Truck & Bus Builder. A free trial subscription to T&BB is available. This news first appeared in the Jan/Feb issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.

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