As alternative power systems for trucks come into play the driving experience is going to change, so PowerTorque took a couple of examples out on the road to find out what it is like driving the SEA Electric truck.
PowerTorque jumped at the chance to drive some of the new electric trucks coming on line from SEA Electric. In this case the trucks were a Hino 500 crane truck and a 300 fitted with a drop side body.
Although limited, the drive was a chance to look into the future of truck driving in the urban environment.
The way these trucks have been designed make it a very similar to a driver’s experience in a diesel truck is the way the vehicle is started. The driver simply jumps in sits in the driver seat, puts the key in the ignition, turns it on and then turns ia little farther for three seconds to activate the system. This is exactly the same set of actions that driver would do when turning on a diesel engine truck, increasing that sense of familiarity.
In PowerTorque’s limited experience in driving electric trucks, the fact of the matter is there is very little to tell in terms of comparing the experiences. All electric motors have the same torque characteristics, as soon as the driver put their foot on the accelerator, they have full torque available, all of the way through the rev range.
One of the aspects of the electric truck which particularly impressed is the retardation available when the driver takes the foot off the accelerator. This is adjustable with a stalk on the steering column, exactly where the current exhaust brake control is located.
In fact this retardation performs the same function for the driver’s point of view, but from the truck’s point of view it is the valuable regenerative charging of the battery, which is taking place at the same time, and which has value for the truck’s range.
There has clearly been plenty of work being done on the way the computer controls the power system. This iteration of the SEA system feels a lot smoother when the truck takes off and slows down than an earlier model tested a couple of years ago.
This is the area where a lot of the ground work will be done to improve the acceptability of these vehicles on the market. We have seen a similar development over the years with the hybrid trucks which are in the Australian market, from Hino.
As the control system becomes smarter, the experience from the driver’s point of view becomes more normal and intuitive. There is nothing strange about the behaviour of the vehicle in response to input from the driver.
The basic principles of an electric truck are so simple and the fact that there is no need to match a transmission to an engine or accelerator input from the driver to the engines capabilities, means that just about every electric truck will feel very similar. Also, the NVH, noise vibration and harshness, measure of a driving experience will also be very similar, because of the smoothness and similarity in driveline behaviour.
Read the full article at Power Torque published on October 4, 2021.