PEM Develops Modular Drive Train Kit for Electric Trucks

LiVe project logo

The chair "Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components" (PEM) of RWTH Aachen University is dedicated to life cycle cost reduction in electric distribution transport through an individually adaptable powertrain in the joint project "LiVe". The aim of the project is to modularize the powertrain to optimally serve different customer needs while keeping investments manageable. The project partners are therefore researching modular structures and the integration of such modules into a complete vehicle. They will then validate the topologies to be derived from the powertrain modular system by building several pilot vehicles. In addition, the partners are developing a new industrialization approach for the cost-effective production of such a modular powertrain system.

Freight traffic is considered a significant source of emissions

Traffic and transportation are considered to be the second largest cause of CO2 emissions in Germany. At the same time, they make a significant contribution to total NOx emissions. Freight traffic and in particular the steadily growing distribution traffic account for a significant share of these emissions. Due to the high energy requirements, there is currently no economical solution for the electrification of trucks in EC vehicle class N3 up to a maximum permissible gross weight of 26 tons. For this reason, the "LiVe" project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, aims to establish a solution space that will enable users to optimize the use of such heavy long-haul vehicles in terms of life cycle costs.

Battery, fuel cell, pantograph: Pioneering prototypes

The project is therefore expected to produce several prototypes of different dimensions and equipment. The second electric truck thus created was an 18-ton truck that has a specially developed battery system and high-voltage on-board network consisting of three packs and allows efficient use of installation space by integrating a drive motor close to the wheel in the configuration with a short cardan shaft. Battery construction for the truck took place in the Electromobility Laboratory (eLab) of RWTH Aachen University. The project's fourth prototype is considered to be Europe's first all-electric truck with an overhead current collector (pantograph). The vehicle is to be extensively tested on appropriate test routes as part of a measurement campaign. As part of the research project, which will run until the end of 2022, two more electric trucks with "modular" powertrains that can be selected depending on the occasion are to be developed including a hydrogen-powered vehicle with a fuel cell.

Further information is provided in this press release and in this press report.


Moritz Frieges © Copyright: H.M.Frieges


Moritz Frieges

Group Leader


+49 1514 6215346


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The project

  • "LiVe": Reduction of lifecycle costs in electrical distribution traffic through individually adaptable drive train

Research objectives

  • Modular component solutions for drive, energy storage and E/E
  • Adaptability of the modular system to different installation spaces
  • Flexible production and integration of battery pack and drive unit
  • Flexibilization of component production through the use of additively manufactured tools

Research and project partners

PEM of RWTH Aachen University
Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University
ISUZU Motors Germany GmbH


09/01/2017 through 12/31/2023

Project management

VDI/VDE Innovation + Technology GmbH

Funding code

  • 16EM3164-1


Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)