ThinKing December 2019: Variable lightweight chassis for new drive systems



Higher payload capacity and better range.

With its chassis concept study “BatteRANGE”, EDAG Engineering GmbH provides a glimpse of what the future holds for commercial vehicle chassis. The lightweight truck frame has a modular design and offers full variability and scalability, making it possible to fit different drive systems to a range of different chassis. The developers in Sindelfingen paid particular attention to potential payload. Therefore, any increase in weight due to the installation of additional energy storage devices is to be offset as much as possible. Moreover, costs can be further reduced by pre-assembling individual elements.

The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg presents this innovation in the December 2019 edition of the ThinKing. Leichtbau BW GmbH uses this label to showcase excellent lightweight technology products or services from Baden-Württemberg every month.

At a glance:
- Modular and scalable system for the chassis of heavy commercial vehicles
- Allows for fitting of different drivetrains
- Cost reduction through pre-assembled modules
- Higher payload capacity and better range due to lightweight load-bearing structure

“Due to their favourable mechanical properties, ladder frames have been used in commercial vehicle construction from the very beginning. However, new drivetrains for drive concepts that use alternative energy carriers, such as electric battery packs, liquefied gas or hydrogen (fuel-cell drive) are going to change the requirements placed on the load-bearing structure of a truck chassis,” says Dr. Martin Hillebrecht, Head of Innovation at EDAG Engineering GmbH. The “BatteRANGE” concept study was developed to show how these new requirements can be taken into account, particularly in view of the great variability of commercial vehicles. The modular design of the lightweight frame can be scaled to fit the respective application profiles. “It was particularly important to us to integrate the drives and their energy storage systems into the frame structure in an optimal way, while at the same time ensuring side impact protection for sensitive components,” says Jochen Seifert, who, together with his team, is responsible for commercial vehicle chassis development at EDAG.

Optimised for maximum payload capacity
However, the greatest attention was paid to payload capacity. Hillebrecht promises that “with BatteRANGE, we are able to keep any weight increase caused by additional energy storage devices and their subsequent connection to existing frame concepts as low as possible – or even avoid it all together. The payload capacity benefits from it.” All this is possible due to the modular design of the chassis, which can be thought of as a kind of construction kit for the frame. “The bionically optimized lightweight structure of the front section, for example, consists of large cast nodes,” says Seifert. The crash-optimized centre section, which can be produced cost-effectively using sheet metal pressings, accommodates the drivetrain components and can hold energy storage devices of different lengths and heights, depending on the respective application. “Costs can be further reduced by pre-assembling individual elements,” Seifert explains. “The rear module allows for the necessary variability with regard to different axle configurations and wheelbases, and acts as a point of interconnection with other frame components. A trailing axle, a low coupling or a tail lift can be integrated without problem.”

Putting the study on the road
It was the EDAG Innovations team that initiated the chassis concept study. “BatteRANGE” was then developed primarily at EDAG's development site in Sindelfingen, in association with the Chassis competence centre. “Thanks to flexible manufacturing processes, the BatteRANGE concept is designed to be a cost-effective and, above all, lightweight solution for variability-intensive designs in the commercial vehicle sector,” the experts from EDAG explain. The next step would be to further develop the “BatteRANGE” concept study with interested partners and to put it on the road. For particularly weight-sensitive applications, this could also mean starting (small-scale) series production.