Futuricum has no truck with pollution
In addition to batteries and chargers, the Swiss company Designwerk makes electric trucks. It also designs and manufactures auxiliary power units tailored to customers’ requirements.
No surprise, then, that in 2020 Designwerk was awarded the Watt d’Or by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, a prize that recognises excellence in energy efficiency, for its Futuricum Project 26E vehicle. Based in Winterthur, north-east of Zurich, Designwerk has been going for more than 10 years. The company specialises in electric mobility, developing and manufacturing innovative batteries, chargers and vehicles. Today it employs a workforce of 65 and has split into two separate entities: Designwerk Technologies GmbH, the parent company, which covers research and development, and Designwerk Products AG, responsible for manufacture, sales and maintenance.
“Most European motor manufacturers use our DC chargers. Small and medium-sized manufacturers looking to electrify commercial vehicles tend to use our modular battery systems. Lastly, we manufacture 18- to 40-tonne electric trucks under the Futuricum brand,” says Fabian Wyssmann, Designwerk’s marketing director. Recycling, distribution, agricultural logistics – these trucks are capable of anything. And the company does more than simply deliver off-the-shelf vehicles, it adapts them to their intended use and their customers’ requirements, for example electrifying the auxiliary power units that operate compactor skips, cranes and cement mixers. Several Swiss municipalities – including Murten, Neuchâtel, Thun and Lausanne – have purchased the refuse collection model of Designwerk’s truck. Zurich and Basel look set to follow soon. The company is looking beyond the border too, and has already carried out tests in the Netherlands and Germany.
Four-and-a-half times more fuel-efficient than a diesel vehicle
In comparison to their main competitor, the diesel engine, these vehicles have plenty of advantages. They are extremely quiet, emit zero CO2 and have fewer moving parts that wear out which means that their reduced maintenance costs offset the higher purchase price. Particularly efficient in stop-start traffic, they are very well suited to city-centre distribution and collection services. In ‘pick up’ mode, a diesel vehicle consumes around 90 litres of fuel per 100 km. By way of comparison, a Futuricum truck uses only 190 kWh of electricity per 100 km, the equivalent of 19.6 litres of diesel. It is therefore more than four-and-a-half times more fuel-efficient. These advantages make up for the restricted range of the vehicles, making long-distance use tricky – a point that Designwerk is working hard at improving by plugging into rapid developments in battery technology.
Transport & mobility