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February 26, 2017 6:00 PM, EST

Eaton Looks to a Future of 48 Volts

Larry Bennett Larry Bennett by John Sommers II for TT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Eaton Corp. has focused on a future for power management in commercial vehicles built around 48-volt power.

It is just an architecture change from a 12-volt system, and “the power electronics to do it is not rocket science, either. I think we are on that cusp,” Larry Bennett, director of vehicle technology and innovation at Eaton Corp., told Transport Topics here Feb. 26 at the annual meeting of American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council.

“Certainly, when you look at what the SuperTruck guys are wanting to do and [truck manufacturers], I think they are leaning heavily on 48-volts at this point,” he said.

In August, the Department of Energy announced its SuperTruck II initiative to more than double the freight efficiency of Class 8 trucks and go beyond provisions in the new federal Phase 2 greenhouse-gas emissions rule affecting heavy- and medium-duty trucks, as well as trailers.

Truck makers are so interested, Bennett said, that if Eaton could make 48-volt power management available, they would definitely take advantage of it.

“So they are ready to go,” he said. “What appeals to them is a fuel-economy play,” or taking accessories that are driven by the belts off the engine so they are not spinning when they are not needed. Unnecessary spinning of accessories creates parasitic drag and reduces engine efficiency.