TRATON: Are hybrid trucks a mature technology or just a bridge technology on the road to achieving a fully electric car?
Ceco: No, hybrid vehicles are a mature, stand-alone technology. They are well established in the market and used by many clients.
TRATON: When did Scania start to develop hybrid trucks?
Ceco: Scania has been working on this technology for more than a decade. The Scania Hybrid P 320 is the first truck that we have brought to market based on this technology.
TRATON: Some important parts of the truck, such as the hydraulic brakes, only function when they can work in sync with an internal combustion engine. How does this work with a fully electric motor?
Ceco: With a hybrid you always have the option of starting the combustion engine. For example, if we detect a pressure drop in the brake system, the combustion engine starts up automatically. By allowing the engine to run at idling speed when necessary, we can keep the brake pressure in the truck.
TRATON: Let’s get to an essential question: is an electric engine strong enough to power a fully loaded truck?
Ceco: Yes, definitely. What limits us is the range. A truck with 17 or 18 tons of weight can drive about 2 kilometers strictly on electrical power. The batteries are continuously charged by recuperation of brake energy while driving. But a driver can also initiate forced charging via the diesel engine by pressing a button from inside the cab. This is very convenient when preparing to enter a low-emission or low-noise zone, for example.
TRATON: What does it feel like to drive this kind of truck? Is it much different from a normal truck?
Ceco: Oh, yes [she laughs]. There’s an enormous difference. You don’t hear anything when in electric mode. That can be quite odd the first time, when the combustion engine turns itself off. I have heard that it often makes people quite uneasy. They actually thought the vehicle wasn’t running properly.