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31 08 2018 01

While companies like Tesla and Nikola are working overtime to electrify the millions of semi trucks that zigzag across America, German engineering firm Bosch is taking a different approach to reducing emissions from the heaviest vehicles on the road. It has developed a compact electric motor that fits most semitrailers — a relatively simple and affordable solution that promises to deliver significant fuel economy benefits.

As it stands, the average semitrailer that carries Amazon packages, groceries, or cars is no different than a smaller trailer or a camper in the sense that its axles roll freely. The trailer’s wheels play no role in moving the truck forward. Bosch’s breakthrough zaps the wheels into motion. It takes the form of an electric motor that recuperates the kinetic energy generated while braking and channels it to a battery pack. It sends the energy back to the axles when the truck starts moving to provide a fuel-saving acceleration boost. The motors also kick in when the truck needs additional power, like when it’s going up a steep hill.

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