Alex Keenan | Fleet Maintenance
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TrovaCV highlights D2E with electric spotter truck

March 14, 2023
TrovaCV, which converts diesel vehicles to electric, has launched an electric spotter truck.

ORLANDO, Florida–Trova Commercial Vehicles (TrovaCV), which provides diesel-to-electric (D2E) powertrain conversions on Class 8 chassis, revealed that yard spotters can also get the electric upgrade at the American Trucking Associations' 2023 Technology and Maintenance Council Annual Meeting.

Both were displayed in the exhibition hall, along with a video demonstrating how the D2E process works. TrovaCV CEO Patrick Collignon explained that the conversion for an older model Class 8 truck could take as few as 48 hours. The yard spotters share similar chassis to the Class 8 trucks, so the D2E conversions have commonalities, added Collignon, the former COO of Volvo Trucks North America.

Trova also claimed the D2E process can double the lifespan of one of the refurbished trucks. And keeping older trucks longer has been a growing trend for fleets. According to American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the average trade cycle in 2020 and 2021 was 8.7 years, the highest in 10 years.

"Our solution adds to [a fleet's] asset recovery, Collingnon stated. "You'll see a 2016 Volvo or a 2009 Mack truck that have close to 350,000 or 500,000 miles on teh counter, and with the process that we are engineering, we will be able to convert your diesel truck into an electric truck," which gives it a new lease on life.

Converting the terminal tractors

The chassis for TrovaCV’s electric spotter truck is assembled, and not welded, from high-strength steel as used in heavy duty Class 8 trucks, making it stronger and easier to access for flexible aftermarket repair work. The chassis rails form the base for the battery packing, allowing up to 200kWh of battery storage capacity inside the chassis frame that can provide a charge for a two back-to-back shift operation. Tailored for the integration of battery electric drivelines, the central mounting of the battery packs offers higher safety and stability and is based on an axial flux motor combination, and the fifth wheel lift uses a different lifting mechanism to reduce the use of steel used in the chassis.

“What makes our solution a little bit different is the way that we modularized the whole solution, because you have to keep in mind that exactly the same components that you see in [the electric spotter truck], you can see in Class 8 trucks," Collignon explained. "They are just configured in a different way.”

Including electric infrastructure

Alongside the D2E program, TrovaCV has partnered with Chateau Energy Solutions to offer charging infrastructure development.

“A fleet manager [thinks] the toughest decision they make is buying an [electrified] truck,” said Todd Jarvis, COO, Chateau Energy Solutions. “The next decision is actually how you are going to get the truck charged. Where are you going to put it? Are you going to organize that? Are you charging? Are you going to charge the entire fleet?”

Jarvis noted that most fleet facilities are purpose-built to serve their logistical function, utilizing only enough ventilation, light, and power needed to sustain their business. But the addition of a converted EV changes the electrical profile of the facility, necessitating added infrastructure. 

This is partially why TrovaCV and Chateau Energy Solutions anticipate that as their D2E program continues to develop, ultimately, EV charging may be held off-site from the customer’s homebase. The goal is that no matter how many electric vehicles a client may develop, they must have the capacity to host them in one way or another.

“Right now, most of the charging spots are actually provided on premise,” Jarvis described. “We’re looking at off premise charging, we're also looking at charging centers. And charging centers are a different thought, where you can actually go and charge at a location within the proximity of where your logistics facility is, but you don’t have to go through the one year or two years of trouble of putting in the infrastructure.”

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