Larry Bennett, director of technology and innovation for Eaton, details his company’s latest technology efforts at the TMC Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Photo: Jack Roberts

Larry Bennett, director of technology and innovation for Eaton, details his company’s latest technology efforts at the TMC Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Photo: Jack Roberts

Eaton Sunday kicked off press conference at the 2018 Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in Atlanta with an update on its most recent products and a in-depth look at the advanced systems and components its engineers are working on.

Scott Davis, general manager of the Eaton Cummins joint venture, began by noting that the Endurant, the heavy-duty automated transmission that is the first fruit of the companies’ partnership, now has approximately 3,500 units on the road and the transmission has logged more than 20 million real-world miles as a result.

Building on the success of the Endurant launch, Davis said, the company will be moving into new applications and markets in the near future, including recreational vehicles.

Advances in commercial vehicle electrification

Larry Bennett, director of technology and innovation for Eaton, detailed several current and emerging technology paths that the company is exploring, paying careful attention to likely developments in trucking over the next five to 10 years.

Bennett said that in that time frame, fleets will likely see much more electrification on vehicles, including separate systems operating at different voltages. He noted that electrification is already starting to see significant inroads in bus markets and that Eaton has just completed a three-year study with the U.S. Department of Transportation to research a new type of automatic transmission for electric commerical vehicles, to determine if a better alternative to the common, single-speed units in use today could be found.

The result, according to Bennett, is a new, four-speed transmission that increases electrical vehicle transmission and weighs half as much as single-speed units while boosting vehicle range by 15%. Bennett said the new transmission will be launched in China before the end of the year.

Bennett said Eaton is also actively working on a new, 48-volt “mild hybrid” powertrain. Experts routinely predict such systems, which give a vehicle an instant torque boost at launch via electric motors working in unison with a diesel powertrain, will become increasingly common on heavy-duty vehicles in the coming decade. Bennett said Eaton’s system is already delivering a 5% boost in fuel economy in testing.

Bennett also noted that it is increasingly likely that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will back new laws requiring a 90% reduction in nitrous oxides (NOx) in diesel exhaust smoke by 2024.

To begin preparing for these rules, Bennett said Eaton is working on a 24-volt, all-electric exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) pump designed to tie into vehicle’s electronic system to maintain flow through the aftertreatment system regardless of engine speed.

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