A truck powered by solar energy sets altitude record: it has climbed a volcano in Chile

The transportation of goods by road still lacks heavy electric vehicles that meet certain operational needs. As a result, companies in the sector and drivers continue to await the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology and electric battery systems as solutions to the specific requirements of professional transportation. However, the industry is also considering other options, as demonstrated by the Swiss solar truck that has achieved an impressive feat by conquering the highest active volcano on Earth, located in Chile.

A truck powered by solar energy sets altitude record: it has climbed a volcano in Chile

This remarkable achievement was accomplished on the way to the western crest of the Ojos de Salado volcano in Chile, the highest active volcano on the planet. Thanks to the capabilities of this electric vehicle, the members of this particular expedition reached an altitude of 6,500 meters above sea level, a figure that represents a record for an EV (electric vehicle). This particular record is credited to the Gebrüder Weiss Peak Evolution team and the Terren solar-powered truck.

A highly versatile truck

The Terren solar truck has been developed by Patrick Koller, David Koller, and David Pröschel of DPP Innovations as part of a program driven and supported by the renowned Swiss company Aebi Schmidt. The base of this solar truck is the Aebi VT450 Transporter, a vehicle that has been modified to incorporate a solar energy-based electric propulsion system. One notable point is that this powertrain is not specific to this truck, and the brand aims to sell it as a kit that can operate in any truck with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating between seven and fifteen tons.

Specifically, the Terren is equipped with two Bosch electric motors with a combined power of 240 kW (320 HP). These motors are associated with a transmission developed by Aebi Schmidt, which improves the efficiency of the motors by 70% compared to similar systems, and enhances power by 20% compared to equivalent diesel models, all with half the weight. To store the obtained energy and power the motors, this truck has a 90 kWh battery system, granting it a range of 200 kilometers under climbing conditions.

It's worth noting that the kit Aebi Schmidt and DPP Innovations intend to sell is designed to have an EcoVolta 140 kWh battery system, thereby extending its range. However, for this expedition, the emphasis was on reducing weight, so smaller batteries were opted for. In fact, among the specific adjustments for the Terren, a notable one is the reduction of the nominal voltage from 400 to 300 volts, achieving greater resistance at high altitudes. Additionally, two battery packs in parallel have been used to ensure the durability and operation of the system, even if one of the packs fails.

To reach the 6,500 meters in height, this modified Aebi VT450 Transporter not only had a special engine, complemented by rear-wheel steering and the use of specific off-road tires, but also incorporated a lightweight body created from composites. The use of strategically located hydraulic winches, providing stability to the truck, has added versatility to a vehicle that somehow reflects the triumph of innovation, efficiency, and excellence in sustainable mobility.