Danfoss road trip to Le Mans seeks to debunk EV range anxiety

With an eye for helping alleviate range anxiety regarding electric heavy-duty trucks, engineering group Danfoss Power Solutions today began driving one of its electric trucks from the company’s headquarters in Nordborg, Denmark, to Le Mans, France — approximately 1,300 km (808 mi.) — in time for the start of the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

The electric Volvo truck, which Danfoss said weighs 20 tons and is 17m (55.8 ft.) long, has joined 47 electric cars for the journey — something event organizer and Danish electric vehicle (EV) charging company GodEnergi has called “the world’s biggest electric road trip.”

Danfoss’ electric Volvo truck, which is driving from Denmark to Le Mans, France, as a demonstration of range and endurance. (Photo: Danfoss)

“The 24 Hours of Le Mans race is a test of endurance for drivers and vehicles,” said Roy Chen, president of the Editron division at Danfoss Power Solutions. “Like the participants trying to maximize distance while minimizing the risk of a breakdown, electric vehicle drivers need to maximize range and minimize charging downtime. By participating in this event, we aim to prove that electric vehicles are built for endurance and can go the distance.”

On this first day of the road trip, the truck and EVs will cross the border into Germany and reach the Netherlands for a layover, Danfoss said. On June 13, they will continue from the Netherlands through Belgium to their final destination in Le Mans, France. The complete route is available on the GodEnergi website.

Danfoss said the electric Volvo truck participating in the event is part of its fully electric truck fleet that transports cargo between production facilities and logistical sites in Denmark. It uses several essential Danfoss components, such as the Editron ED3 onboard charger with electric power take-off (ePTO). According to Danfoss, the ED3 enables rapid overnight and opportunity charging of electric vehicles using readily available utility outlets.

The electric Volvo truck also has Danfoss Semikron SKAI high-voltage traction inverters. At the center of the vehicle’s electric powertrain, these components convert DC power from the battery to AC that drives the electric motor, Danfoss said. For regenerative braking, the SKAI traction inverters perform the reverse function and charge the truck’s battery.

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Charging electric trucks at publicly available outlets is somewhat different in Europe compared to the U.S.

“The North American market typically uses 120V or 240V AC single-phase, whereas in the EU, 380V to 480V AC three-phase is readily available,” Danfoss said via email. “This means that the ED3 in the U.S. will provide less than half the charging power compared to usage in Europe. However, the U.S. is considering implementing a new AC standard similar to the EU.”

Danfoss Editron ED3 onboard charger with ePTO The Editron ED3 onboard charger with electric power take-off (ePTO) delivers 43 kW of charging power. (Photo: Danfoss)

According to Danfoss, the truck will use both AC and DC charging during the trip.

“Both have their advantages and disadvantages when we talk about electrification with heavy-duty transport as well as other areas of the transportation and construction sector,” the company said. “The point with this project is that long-distance trips are doable today, even though it takes more planning.”

Danfoss said it has an agreement with a charging provider that will allow the truck to charge for free using their chargers during the trip.

“However, we will also be using other chargers,” the company said. “It depends more on availability and what makes sense when planning the route rather than the cost of charging. In general, we don’t expect any extraordinary costs compared to if we did the same trip in a conventional truck. For our normal operations with the electric trucks, we’ve found it is an advantage to have EVs especially because we have power purchase agreements, which means fixed prices for the power we use.”

All aspects of the road trip are electrified, Danfoss said, and participants will rely on power from the cars for their camp, including cooking on electric grills.

“We are 115 participants in this road trip who love motorsport and cars and at the same time want to prove that it is possible to cover long distances in electric vehicles,” said Jan Darville, CEO of GodEnergi. “The technology and the opportunities are there.”

Danfoss Editron, a part of Danfoss Power Solutions, designs, manufactures and delivers hybrid and fully electric drivetrains for the marine, off-highway, and on-highway sectors.


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