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Freightliner Develops Hybrid RV Chassis
In brief: Called the ecoFRED, the motorhome chassis is from Freightliner with an advanced hybrid power train with other improvements.
Vehicle in the news
Make/Model: ecoFred Powertrain
The company claims that this is the first hybrid chassis for a motorhome in the industry. Called the ecoFRED (increased economy Front Engine Disel), the chassis was first introduced in 2008 as a prototype.
Using the Eaton hybrid-electric system, the ecoFRED is powered by a Cummins ISB 6.7L (300hp) with an Eaton automatic transmission. Between the engine and trans is the ecoFRED box.
This is a combination of motor and generator which attaches to the drive train. Lithium-ion batteries are also on the vehicle. The motor acts as a booster for the diesel engine during increased torque need (starting out or picking up speed) and acts as a generator for regenerative braking on downhills and when slowing or stopping.
The vehicle can also be set up to use auto-shut-off to eliminate idling or the need for a secondary generator when parked. The lithium-ion batteries can provide power to the occupants when parked and can start the ICE to act as a generator when batteries need recharging.
All of this saves fuel, though Freightliner doesn't say how much. It also boosts the rating for the chassis from 27,000 pounds to 37,000 total GVW because of the extra towing capacity with the motor boosting the engine.
And so ...
Although the hybrid power train is a great idea, the extra cost (likely to be close to $10,000) and the question of how much efficiency it really adds will cause many to wonder if it's really worth it.
Photo credits: FCCC
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