BAE Systems prepares to supply electric propulsion systems to truck and bus builders in Brazil and Latin America


By Jose Secco - 13th March 2023

BAE Systems prepares to supply electric propulsion systems to truck and bus builders in Brazil and Latin America

Steve Trichka, vice-president of the Power and Propulsion Solutions business at BAE Systems

Brazil / USA - BAE Systems Inc of Endicott, New York, a major supplier of electric and hybrid propulsion systems for the North America and European markets, in partnership with an unnamed Brazilian commercial vehicle manufacturer, is developing, a prototype heavy-duty electric truck. Steve Trichka, vice-president of the Power and Propulsion Solutions business at BAE Systems spoke about the strategic move into the Latin American e-mobility marketplace in an interview with Truck and Bus Builder in Sao Paulo.

"I still cannot reveal the name of our partner, but we are supplying one of our most advanced propulsion systems for a heavy electric truck prototype, which should go into demonstration tests by the end of this first half year," revealed Trichka.  

The company, which has a strong presence in the United States, Canada and Europe, supplying five urban bus manufacturers in North America and another three in Europe with a mixture of hybrid, battery electric and HFC-propulsion systems, now aims to expand its business into Latin America.

Trichka clarified that although this first project is for a heavy electric truck prototype, BAE Systems' hybrid and electric propulsion systems are modular and that the same set can be used in any heavy duty vehicle, whether trucks or buses, and can be tailored according to the application desired by the partner or operator.

According to Trichka, the growth potential of the electric bus market throughout Latin America is very large, as it is already happening in cities like Bogotá, with more than 1,000 units in circulation, and Santiago de Chile, with more than 500 units. Brazil, according to information from the mayor of the city of São Paulo, should put more than 1,000 electric buses into circulation by the end of this year.

Commenting on the market development in Brazil, Trichka said:

Manufacturers in Brazil, it would seem, are choosing to be opting for the all-electric solution without transitioning using the cheaper hybrid solution, which has been the general trend in Europe and North America, that is, until relatively recently. Our hybrid system that we supply for buses today in the United States and Canada, can operate for part of the time on electric propulsion only, such as when inside designated zero emission zones. This (hybrid system) may be a useful option still for certain applications in Brazil and neighbouring countries.

To meet the needs of emerging markets for vehicle electrification, such as Latin America and India, BAE Systems is continuously developing new generations of systems with new materials to reduce costs and to adapt them to the specific needs of operators in these regions, Trichka added. Initially, BAE Systems intends to enter the Latin American markets by importing products manufactured at the Endicott plant, in the United States, which include the motor, inverter and electronic management modules; the battery packs and other power source options such as the hydrogen fuel cell and the ICE engine, can also be supplied by BAE Systems at the request of the customer.

Our objective is to focus on the market for buses and heavy trucks that are larger in size and in the class 7 and 8 {equivalent in Brazil to commercial vehicles above 12 tons total gross weight}.

According to Trichka, there are now huge opportunities for BAE Systems technology in the Latin American market. Trichka concluded:

Our objective is also to support the broader goals of companies and governments to achieve their ecological and environmental goals. We are prepared to offer solutions for a variety of heavy-duty applications in the Latin American market using products and technologies that have been already proven over many miles of operation

Note on BAE Systems:

About 25 years ago, BAE Systems began leveraging its expertise in electronic energy management modules to design and manufacture electric propulsion systems for heavy-duty vehicles. Since then, the Power & Propulsion Solutions Division has supplied almost 16,000 electric drive systems to manufacturers in different countries, mainly in North America and Europe. In New York City's urban transport fleet alone, 1,700 buses are equipped with BAE Systems' hybrid powertrain.

BAE Systems produces hybrid systems, 100% electric powered by batteries and also offers electric propulsion generated by hydrogen fuel cells, which are considered more efficient to electrify heavy vehicles for long distance transport. To accelerate the evolution of this technology, a partnership was recently signed with Plug Power, a company that produces fuel cell modules and supplies the hydrogen itself, produced from electrolysis with renewable energy sources.