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The Iveco Z Truck concept immediately stood out on the IAA Commercial Vehicles show floor with its futuristic—and aerodynamic—shape. (Photo by Ryan Gehm)

Tech-heavy Iveco Z Truck concept spawns 29 patents

Designed in collaboration by CNH Industrial’s Design Center and Innovation department, the Iveco Z Truck concept that debuted at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, Germany, is the company’s take on what future trucks may look like. This vision includes alternative energy—a new-generation LNG (liquefied natural gas) engine running on bio-methane derived from refined biogas—automated driving, enhanced aerodynamics, improved safety and the creation of a new living space in the cab.

The long-haul concept truck breaks away from every constraint, the company claims, to be a zero-impact vehicle for a totally sustainable transport system.

“With Iveco Z Truck and its 29 patents, we are defining where our efforts could lead us in the future: a vehicle with a human dimension, designed to accommodate comfortably and safely the work and leisure activities of the driver, adapting each time to his needs,” said Pierre Lahutte, Iveco Brand President. “We are defining a future of long-haul freight transport that is totally sustainable—a vehicle that has zero impact on its environment, with zero emissions and zero accidents.”

The LNG powertrain has rated power of 460 hp (343 kW), torque at 2000 N·m (1475 lb·ft), and a transmission with 16 gears automated with powershift in the upper gears. The Z Truck reportedly uses up to 33% less fuel. Two tanks with a capacity of 1200 L (317 gal) result in a range of 2220 km (1380 mi)—60% greater compared to the current Stralis NP natural-gas model, according to Iveco.

The truck adopts a new concept tank developed with SAG. It is made of aluminum insulated with a new Multi Layer Insulation, a reflective foil that protects from heat radiation. The technology allows for a squared shape, making it possible to optimize the use of space and accommodate two tanks with a single recharge.

An onboard Rankine-cycle waste heat recovery system exploits exhaust gas as a heat source to recover energy.

Petronas Lubricants International supported development of the Z Truck. LNG used in conjunction with Petronas Urania low-viscosity engine oils contributes to Iveco’s zero-emissions target.

Zero accidents are the vision for this concept truck through the deployment of active and preventive safety technologies up to full automated driving technologies, according to Lahutte. Iveco sees a future in which these new technologies and autonomous driving will change the role of the driver, who they say will become an “onboard logistics operator.”

Lahutte also shared that zero stress and zero waste of time is the goal of the driver-centered design where the cab is freed from traditional constraints and can be totally reconfigured according to the various activities of the day (driving, automated driving, office working, resting). The seat, steering wheel system, pedals and controls console form a self-contained unit that is suspended independently from the cab.

The seat and retractable steering wheel combine two systems that move together in a double arch rotation: while the steering wheel moves forward, the seat moves back to provide a comfortable position for the driver. Parts of the side wall, the pavilion and the floor are integrated to form a self-supporting box-sliding structure, adding 50 cm (20 in) of interior length.

A sliding door opens and moves away with a rototranslating movement, enabling a retractable platform and 5-step stairs to slide out parallel to the vehicle. This provides full ergonomic access to the cab similar to home stairs.

The HMI (human-machine interface) is designed to adapt the way it provides information to the driver. The information on the truck’s functions is projected on the “smart” windshield as it becomes necessary and changes according to what the driver needs at the time. Views from a multi-camera system are displayed on a wide screen at the top of the windshield, giving the driver full visibility around the vehicle in every driving phase.

“We are facing a revolution triggered by the concern for the environment, the economy, and safety on and around vehicles,” said Lahutte. “With our focus on our values of sustainability, TCO (total cost of ownership), technology and business partnership with our customers, at Iveco we have been working to constantly reduce the impact of our vehicles with alternative fuels such as bio-LNG, and putting the driver and the customer at the center of our technological and design development.”

Connected technology extends to the futuristic tires supplied by Michelin. The Michelin X Line Energy tires are the first range to be awarded the AAA grading in rolling resistance, which saves long-haul convoys up to 1 L of fuel per 100 km. The tires feature RFID embedded tags that can track each tire throughout its life cycle, providing real-time information such as type, size, model name, wear, performance or temperature. Used with Tire Pressure Monitoring System sensors on the rims, they can also provide pressure data. Any or all of this data can be displayed in the cab as necessary to alert the driver.

Anticipated improvement in aerodynamics results from the integration of the trailer and the extreme geometry changes on the tractor. As a result, drag is reduced by up to 30%, according to Iveco, with potential for further improvement in platooning configuration.

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