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TrovaCV adds CTO to help commercialize diesel-to-electric conversion solution

Sept. 21, 2022
Former Volvo engineer Chad Burchet was named chief technology officer of the the Virginia-based battery-electric commercial vehicle solution startup, which hopes to increase its D2E production line over the next several years.

Trova Commercial Vehicles (TrovaCV) appointed Chad Burchett as chief technology officer (CTO) to oversee the next phase of the custom engineering, design, and manufacturing firm's efforts to commercialize its Diesel-to-Electric (D2E) driveline-conversion process for electrifying existing Classes 7 and 8 diesel-powered trucks. The company's goal is to produce electrified drivelines that would cost less to fleets than buying new electric trucks and is currently raising $30 million in capital.

“Chad will lead all technology development for TrovaCV,” said Patrick Collignon, TrovaCV founder and CEO, a longtime Volvo Group executive prior to starting up the Virginia-based manufacturer. “He is one of the most experienced authorities in North America on electric commercial vehicles.”

Burchett previously worked for Volvo Group for 23 years. While there, he advanced from product engineering positions in the OEM’s North American and Sweden-based operations to being named chief project manager/lead project manager engineering for Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) in 2018. In that role, Burchett was instrumental in moving VTNA’s cornerstone public-private LIGHTS EV real-world project toward completion. His responsibilities included delivering 23 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 contract trucks, with three different feature steps, in less than two years, as well as the 2021 and 2022 model years of the VNR Electric into serial production.

Separately, Burchett helped Volvo and autonomous-tech firm Aurora collaborate on completing Level 2 and Level 4 autonomy requirements for Volvo Autonomous Solutions.

“I’m using my experience developing and introducing several model years of heavy-duty battery electric vehicles to focus TrovaCV’s efforts on full industrialization of our product lineup,” said Burchett. “Our D2E process is brilliant in that it uses the fleet’s existing truck but modifies the chassis for a fully electric driveline – carrying over all other major non-internal-combustion-engine components.”

TrovaCV’s D2E solution is a way for fleets to transition to zero-emission vehicles, offering a turnaround time of 48 hours and a price cut of roughly 33% in comparison to purchasing an electric vehicle, said the company. TrovaCV has already developed working prototypes and the necessary engineering processes for the conversion program utilizing TrovaCV’s proprietary chassis.

“Our chassis has several patents to allow the placement of the components within the frame rail,” Burchett says. Central mounting increases battery-pack durability compared to side-rail mounting and helps improve vehicle stability. It also increases the safety of the batteries and vehicle in major side-impact crashes.

With Burchett at the helm, TrovaCV would like to produce up to 10,000 D2E conversions per year, although the company has admitted that supply constraints of necessary materials for electrification, such as lithium, may provide challenges in coming years.

But Burchett, who received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and holds six U.S. patents on truck manufacturing systems, is confident in D2E’s ability to meet such challenges.

“I have no doubt that, within a few years, TrovaCV will increase production greatly, given that there are some 4.6 million Class 7-8 diesel-powered vehicles already on the road in North America,” Burchett promised. 

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Fleet Maintenance staff

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