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Freightliner Develops Advanced Hybrid RV Chassis

 

Ecofred Hybrid RV Chassis

Ecofred Hybrid RV Chassis

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So you've always dreamed of owning an RV but just couldn't imagine paying for all that fuel used on a family outing.  Well you may be in luck as Freightliner is now offering a motor home chassis to solve the problem.

The new chassis is called the ecoFred motorhome chassis.  Freightliner is the first to develop a chassis of this type for the RV market.  The powertrain consists of a 6.7 liter Cummins diesel engine (typical in this class of chassis) paired with an Eaton automated manual transmission, also typical.  Here's where the change comes in.  This new powertrain utilizes a combo motor-generator sandwiched between the trans and the engine.  The motor-generator provides electric drive capabilities, captures energy from regenerative braking, and always the use of an auto shut off feature.

The chassis also incorporates a lithium-ion battery for energy storage duties.  All of the advanced components lead to several improvements.  The hybrid setup increases fuel economy while also provided additional power for acceleration duties and an increased gross vehicle weight.

The advanced Freightliner chassis will be available to RV builders (Coach builders) starting next year.  The hybrid setup will reduce fuel consumption on long family trips, but the advanced chassis is likely to cost significantly more than a traditional setup.

Source:  Freightliner

PRESS RELEASE:

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation ecoFREDTM Motorhome Chassis Ready for Production

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Dec. 3, 2009 - ecoFREDTM, the RV industry's first hybrid-electric Class A motorhome chassis, is now available for order. Introduced in December 2008 by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) as a prototype, ecoFRED provides improved fuel economy while also reducing engine emissions.

Equipped with the Eaton® hybrid-electric system, ecoFRED is unlike any other chassis available in the RV market today. Powered by the Cummins® ISB 6.7-liter engine with up to 300 hp and an Eaton automated manual transmission, ecoFRED provides increased torque for better acceleration, contributing to a superior performance that has become synonymous with the FCCC brand.

"We are pleased that ecoFRED is ready for production," said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. "ecoFRED offers reduced exhaust emissions, leading toward a cleaner environment, requires less fuel to operate and has an improved brake life, all of which contribute to better overall performance and a reduced operational cost for our customers."

ecoFRED, so named because of its increased fuel economy and ecological/ environmental benefits, offers significantly less brake wear due to regenerative braking, leading to lower replacement costs. The chassis also boasts of better acceleration and increased towing capacity, operating similar to driving an automatic transmission.
ecoFRED has increased towing capacity with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 27,000 lbs. and a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 37,000 lbs. This enables travelers to carry more weight in the coach storage compartments or tow a heavier or additional vehicle.

FCCC engineers also designed ecoFRED to offer a best-in-class 55-degree wheel cut to better travel and navigate through tight spatial constraints. Similar to the popular FRED (Front Engine Diesel) chassis, ecoFRED does not have an engine hump or "dog house" typically found on a gas chassis. The result is a flat floor and more room in the driver cockpit, contributing to driver comfort and easier entry and egress from the seats to the back of the motorhome.




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Comments (2)
  1. I am surprised that they don't offer a hydraulic hybrid for this configuration, because it's so much cheaper and offers the same regen benefits. I don't see how this system improves highway miles, because an overdrive gear directly connected to an ICE is the most efficient means of maintaining a constant speed.
     
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  2. Jason: hydraulic assist wouldn't do much good in a long-distance vehicle, as it benefits only short range, stop-and-go vehicles like garbage trucks.
    Your second point, however, is probably right. Since this is a diesel motor, it may not be as poignant as a gasoline driven, but gearing is where it's at for long-distance, constant speed in an ICE. I note that Freighliner didn't mention any specific savings that this chassis offers, which makes me thing you're right in questioning the real benefit of this hybrid.
    I know that big rigs have seen some improvement with hybrid power trains, but there's a large difference between a 425hp, 80,000 vehicle and a 300hp, 27,000 vehicle.
     
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