Hello and welcome to your daily Charge Smart blog! Today, we'll be taking a look at a big EV because DAF are bringing battery tech to their trucks.
What’s DAF you might ask firstly! Well, it’s not what you’d call your mate when they were mucking around. The word you’re looking for in that scenario is daft by the way. DAF is a Dutch truck company, founded in 1928. They are one of the largest truck manufacturing companies in the world.
Above: The DAF CF electric at work
Why are we interested? That’s because, DAF have just released their first EV! Yup, that’s some big news. Previously, if you wanted an EV truck then you’d have to just buy a diesel unit and swap out the engine with an electric motor and batteries which would have to be retrofitted to a chassis that wasn’t designed for the purpose. That process tends to be rather expensive and you lose a bit of range since the truck being used was formerly an ICE vehicle which wasn’t intended to be converted to an EV.
DAF turned their CF series truck into an EV by taking help from a company called VDL who are responsible for most of the electric buses in Europe. The company created six of these CF electric trucks which were then put to the test by some of their customers. They recently celebrated a milestone with their six tester trucks having covered a distance of 150,000 kilometres in less than a year. The most travelled vehicle covered 30,000 kilometres in the year. You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the distance sounds a little small but that’s down to the range of the trucks. They use a 170kWhr battery pack which allows for a range of 100 kilometres. The electric motor delivers 210 kW of power and a colossal torque figure of 2000 Nm! While the range doesn’t sound like much, it’s still a good start for electric trucks and it was proved by these companies putting these trucks to work every day.
Above: DAF's CF EV in the company's colours
Fun fact: 150,000 kilometres is nearly four times around the world!
The company’s first year of testing was a success and they have now started taking orders for their CF electric trucks. So far, they will only be selling to Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Germany with production initially limited to a few dozen trucks per year. Their one year of testing led to improvements being made with the truck’s software and dashboard functions. That will all be incorporated into the CF Phase 2.
DAF are limiting production numbers initially because they want to maintain control and build their trucks to a very high standard. They know that, there’s a lot riding on these electric trucks so the company is treating it with utmost importance. In the meantime, they are also assessing the charging infrastructure in other parts of Europe following which they will consider expanding sales operations to those countries. DAF want to check the charging networks of these countries thoroughly because their trials taught them that customers will need to plan specific routes for the CF electric because of its low range.
Though, 300kW fast chargers can top the battery up to full in about half an hour meaning that some of their customers will be allowed to use their trucks 18 hours a day for six days a week to cover 250 kilometres per day. Not bad. DAF said that their customers were initially using the trucks to cover the range of 100 kilometres a day but as the weeks went by, they started to experiment more and cover more than 250 kilometres because of the rapid fast charging available to them.
One of the companies who trialled the CF electric truck said that the EV was as reliable as any other DAF truck! They said that the only difference was in planning where they needed to pick a specific route to fit the truck rather than the other way around. Plus, they said that the ability to charge the truck during loading and unloading meant the ability to cover a fair bit of distance during a workday. Now that their trials were a success, DAF have planned to continue their partnership with VDL (the European bus manufacturer and battery tech supplier) to produce four garbage trucks to go on another year long trial.