Wrightspeed was founded in 2005 with the vision to electrify heavy truck fleets, lead by making electric powertrains for medium and heavy-duty urban transportation, including buses, refuse trucks, and delivery vehicles. Its goal today is to leverage its developed drivetrains to repower a new generation of cleaner, quieter and more efficient vehicle fleets for urban streets.
Back in 2016, the World Economic Forum recognised Wrightspeed as a ‘Technology Pioneer’, identifying its innovation as a leading force in cutting costs and emissions while delivering just as much power and range as conventional diesel powertrains.
Today, it offers game-changing innovations such as the Wrightspeed Route, which is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle (REV) replacement powertrain that can be customised to fit a variety of heavy-duty truck platforms, replacing both the engine and the transmission.
To find out more about Wrightspeed and its latest products, Auto Futures speaks with the company’s Vice President of Engineering, Broc TenHouten.
“The Route is Wrightspeed’s flagship product, an electric powertrain that replaces the engine, transmission and axles of traditional medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses,” he explains. “Our advanced electric drive axle, the Wrightspeed Geared Traction Drive (GTD) is the cornerstone of the system. The GTD uses dual independent high-speed motors spinning up to 24,000 rpm, significantly reducing weight.”
“The system also uses an electronically shifted 4-speed, clutch-less transmission to ensure that the motors are always in their most efficient operating band, resulting in higher efficiency than competing solutions. The multi-speed gearbox also provides the torque required to drive up the steepest hills while fully loaded.”
What’s more, the company also offers an optional onboard range-extending generator to enable longer-range applications and eliminate range anxiety. This allows Wrightspeed to cater to different needs across the industry, opening its doors to long- and short-haul services.
Wrightspeed believes that it is more effective to replace diesel fleets on the road today with its electric powertrain conversion, rather than replace these vehicles with brand new electric variants. The idea is that the fleet operators who use the system will have a lower total cost of ownership than those who use traditional solutions or electrification solutions from other providers.
“It’s the right decision to select our powertrains for use in new vehicles or to repower existing trucks mid-life,” says TenHouten.
According to TenHouten, truck and bus chassis last over 12 years. However, the traditional powertrains wear out after just half of that, requiring a complete overhaul.
“It makes sense to repower those vehicles with a Wrightspeed Route powertrain and make the oldest and dirtiest vehicles in the fleet into the cleanest and most efficient,” continues TenHouten.
Putting this solution into numbers, the Wrightspeed Route offers the greatest benefits in frequent-stop heavy-duty applications. Since traditional piston combustion engines are least efficient when starting and stopping, the Wrightspeed system can achieve improvements as great as up to 60% reduction in energy consumption and up to $40,000 reduction in annual combined maintenance and fuel costs.
TenHouten says that the system has a typical payback period of just two-to-four years, depending on the application.
One Product, Multiple Solutions
Wrightspeed’s powertrain is a modular system and has been adapted to multiple different vehicle variants. The system has been implemented on buses, refuse trucks and delivery vehicles.
Additionally, the system has been installed onto the chassis of multiple different manufacturers.
“Our system is most effective in heavy urban applications, where we can use our proprietary GTD to maximise the recovery of kinetic energy, recharging the battery with every stop rather than wearing out the brake pads,” explains TenHouten.
The team at Wrightspeed is currently preparing for delivery of the first buses in a 150 vehicle order for a municipality. TenHouten says that initial testing of the systems shows that the vehicles will provide a two year payback period.
“Were excited to be approaching the delivery milestone, and look forward to making an announcement with our partner soon.”
This is just the start for Wrightspeed, which currently has the cleanest and most efficient electric solution for regional heavy-duty powertrains, within a $400 billion market. TenHouten says that, due to this, it will take multiple organisations to facilitate the transition to electric trucks and buses.
“Wrightspeed will be a key player in the space. We have announcements coming in the next few months that we can’t share just yet, please watch for them as momentum builds in the space,” he says.