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Out with the diesel engine and in with the electric axle

Vilshofen an der Donau/Wiehl: The electrification of municipal and commercial utility vehicles is now gathering pace: The Paul Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH initiates a electrification program for the Mercedes-Benz Vario in collaboration with BPW Bergische Achsen KG.

The ingenious operation entails the complete removal of the conventional powertrain, consisting of the engine, transmission, differential etc.. Propulsion is provided by a new type of electric axle supplied by the transport and running gear specialist BPW. The conversion does not give rise to a heavier vehicle because the elimination of the engine, transmission and emission control system compensates for the additional battery weight. In fact, electrification actually makes the vehicle more agile. Torque substantially increases, for example, and the wheels can be activated individually. In addition, active steering control for the rear axle reduces the turning circle. 

In view of its ruggedness and technical attributes, even after the official end of its production run the MB Vario remains one of the most popular platforms for the utility and special-purpose vehicles operated by local authorities, the police and armed forces, as well as numerous commercial enterprises. Its high payload, uncompromising reliability and large cab predestine the van for a variety of conversions. Special-purpose vehicles regularly have long service lives because they are operated only seasonally, and an electric successor to the MB Vario from the Mercedes stable is not currently in sight. Giving consideration to their operating profiles, moreover, municipal utility vehicles are ideal candidates for electrification. Many of them cover less than 100 km a day and are loaded at the same depot every evening. 

Walter Pötzinger, managing director of Paul Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH, comments, “Many authorities could ultimately be compelled to issue driving bans contrary to their own interests, given that they rank among the largest operators of diesel-powered commercial vehicle fleets. Electrification can allow their vehicles to remain in service for a much longer period. It is an economically viable option, especially since the e-drive costs less to operate and maintain than an internal combustion engine.” 

Markus Schell, personally liable managing partner of BPW, remarks, “The standard conversion programme initiated by Paul sends an important message that has been eagerly awaited by fleet operators in the municipal, public agency and business sectors. But it also represents a crucial milestone on the road towards electric transport in general. We are delighted to have this opportunity to build on our long-standing mobility and system partnership with the company in the electric vehicle segment as well.”