Trucking executives soon won’t have to replace in-service heavy-duty vehicles to electrify their fleets, thanks to the breakthrough outside-the-box thinking of Trova Commercial Vehicles (TrovaCV).

The custom engineering, design, and manufacturing firm is developing a unique Diesel-to-Electric (D2E) driveline-conversion program for electrifying existing Class 7-8 diesel-powered trucks.

“Over the past year, we’ve developed our rolling chassis as a ‘skateboard’ solution for converting existing heavy-duty trucks to electric power at a much lower cost than buying a new EV,” says Patrick Collignon, TrovaCV founder and CEO. “Our D2E package combines the latest electric driveline technology with a completely new chassis thoughtfully designed from the ground up specifically for EV components. Also, our conversion process is being engineered to deliver rapid volume production, rather than the slow build of a typical mom-and-pop converter.”

The D2E approach will be a rapid and cost-effective way for fleets to transition to zero-emission vehicles. While traditional OEMs and most EV startup firms are focusing on new vehicle offerings, TrovaCV recognizes that there are some 4.6 million Class 7-8 vehicles powered by diesel drivelines already on the road in North America. These trucks are excellent candidates for conversion to all-electric drive.

“It is simply not possible to reach lofty zero emission targets without transforming existing diesel trucks in one way or another,” Collignon explains. “We are aiming at a population of 400,000 Class 7 and 8 vehicles in North America that are excellent candidates for conversion to battery electric power through our D2E program.”

TrovaCV is developing a prototype vehicle and engineering processes for the conversion program, with rollout planned in late 2022. TrovaCV D2E is a straightforward concept based on the extensive global truck-manufacturing expertise of the TrovaCV team.

Each conversion will ride on TrovaCV’s new proprietary rolling chassis, which is purpose-built to accommodate battery-electric driveline components. A key advantage of this design is that the truck’s battery packs can be packaged within the chassis rails. Central mounting increases battery-pack durability compared to side-rail mounting, helps improve vehicle stability, and increases the safety of the batteries and vehicle in major side-impact crashes.

TrovaCV D2E conversions will be “industrialized” in a factory-type setting to ensure quality production and short leadtimes. Prior to the arrival of the original truck, the new rolling chassis will be equipped with a brand-new electric driveline. Once the truck is cleaned and all liquids have been drained, then the bumper, hood, and cab will be removed and prepped for reassembly. Next, the original axles, fifth wheel, and brake system from the existing truck will be transferred onto the new chassis. Then the cab, hood, and bumper will be reassembled. The entire process will be engineered to the highest automotive quality-assurance standards and will incorporate a thorough component inspection prior to reassembly. While the truck is being converted, fleet personnel will be educated on the use and maintenance of their “new” battery-electric vehicle.

Upon completion of the D2E conversion, the fleet customer will drive away with their original truck, however, now it will ride on a brand-new chassis powered by a battery-electric driveline.

The environmental benefits of the TrovaCV D2E Program extend to putting the recovered components, such as the diesel engine, transmission, and cooling module, into a reman process to extend their life cycles. In addition, the old chassis will be reconditioned and reused if possible; otherwise it will be recycled.