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Techint E&C tries out its first electric truck

Published 26.3.2024

Electromobility has arrived! These vehicles will change personnel transport and light cargo at worksites and logistics centers.


The Corporate Innovation and Andean Area teams have just coordinated the first test-drive for a 100% electric van together with Chilean start-up Voltera at the Antofagasta Logistics Center, Chile. “This is a R6 2-wheel drive truck manufactured in China by the same group that makes trucks for Nissan. They already have over 150 trucks on the ground and in operation, and this promises to bring about a major shift in the way we transport personnel and light cargo on premises such as construction sites and logistics centers—and why not at our offices?” comments Alejandro Aineseder, Logistics Manager in Chile.

The electric engine in these new vehicles is mounted on the rear axle, while the fuel tank is replaced by a battery pack located under the passenger compartment that, according to the manufacturer, has a useful life of 8 to 10 years. Charging times can vary from 24 hours for home charging, to 8 hours with fast chargers, and up to 1 hour in high-power charging stations.


Benefits and costs

The main benefit of these vehicles is their contribution to decarbonization. Eliminating fossil fuels not only means less consumption but also reduces the need for on-site supply management and associated administrative work. Maintenance chores such as replacing combustion engine oils and filters will also become a thing of the past, leading to a reduction in industrial waste and all the attendant environmental effects.

“Although this technology tends to be used most often at sites connected to the electricity grid, we can also employ the idle times of our diesel generators at projects to charge them. Here, a doubly virtuous circle would be formed, as we’d be able to use vehicles in other places too,” says Alejandro Aguirre, Innovation & Knowledge Management Sr. Manager.

One of the most relevant operational issues of electromobility is logistical planning, since there must be enough charging points along the routes covered by the vehicles to ensure there are no hiccups. Their autonomy between charges varies between 250 and 330 km depending on the conditions of use, handling and terrain. Performance is highly susceptible to issues such as uneven road surfaces, hills and slopes. For instance, going up a slope uses up the charge much faster, whereas on the way down, the system regenerates, enabling greater distances to be traveled.

As for costs, this truck in Chile comes to around USD 40,000, which is USD 15,000 above the average value of a similar 2WD diesel vehicle. “We’re pulling together data that will allow us to make a highly detailed business case, as well as directly purchasing vehicles which is an attractive proposition that we’re analyzing with TEPAM. This could include a leasing arrangement whereby the supplier could provide us with EVs for specific periods of time and including charging stations and workshops without the need for outright purchase,” says Aguirre.


An array of options incorporating cutting-edge technology

The supplier Voltera will be launching the 4WD model later this year, including a second motor on the front axle and higher performance batteries to power both motors.

“There’s no doubt that this is an extremely interesting technology which will be essential for us in the near future. This is why we have to thoroughly evaluate it with the supplier and their after-sales service, to see how we can best apply it in our projects. There are all kinds of safety, maintenance, cost and associated labor issues to be analyzed because of the huge paradigm and know how shift that this development implies,” says Claudio Poletti, Heavy Equipment Manager in Peru.

Although Voltera offers a wide range of passenger and cargo vehicles, the best option for introducing electromobility to our projects in the short term is these 2WD trucks. Looking further ahead, there are options to be considered such as 6x4 three-axle trucks, as well as yard cargo trucks with a covered bed that are also 100% electric. And there are even buses and vans for personnel transportation, where the testing phase will be discussed with the company’s transport service providers.

This latest Innovation initiative reinforces Techint E&C's commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency, which, year after year, achieves the high levels of certification to meet even the most demanding international standards. Electromobility is here to stay, so let's charge up and get to work!

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