Finland Experiments with Electrifying old Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Helsinki collaborates on a pilot project to electrify Heavy-Duty Vehicles starting with its old Scania P320 truck; will be on the streets in the next few months


Forum Virium Helsinki, an innovation company based in the Finnish city has collaborated with the construction company Stara, the University of Applied Sciences in Tampere and VTT Technical Research Centre on a pilot project to electrify Helsinki’s old Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDVs). Funded by the City of Helsinki Innovation Fund, the project aims to provide practical expertise and knowledge to expand the potential of electrifying vehicles on a large scale. In addition to actual diesel-to-electric conversion, the project also aims to create a data-rich ecosystem on the operating costs, service requirements and feasibility of converting and running electrified HDVs. It is hoped that by successfully converting and operating a diesel-to-electric truck, the pilot will pave the way for widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

An old diesel truck being electrified at a depot in Tampere

An old diesel truck being electrified at a depot in Tampere
Credit: Ari Reinikainen / Dimedia and Jarmo Marles / Stara

Dubbed the Stara eRetrofit project, the first truck to be electrified is an old Scania P320 truck. Early this year, the truck’s diesel engine was dismantled and the truck was towed to a depot in Tampere where electric motors, inverters, battery packs and power electronics are currently being installed. The truck’s performance was analyzed to estimate the battery capacity it would need. Once the truck is electrified, the hope is that it will operate alongside regular diesel trucks while taking manageable charging breaks. Shabnam Farahmand, who works for Forum Virium Helsinki and is coordinating the project, said: “The aim is to escalate the adoption and spread of electric vehicles. We tackle the challenge by developing solutions which increase the know-how and speed up the change towards reaching low emission traffic.”

Even though eRetrofit is currently focused on one truck’s electrification, the project will allow stakeholders to assess the profitability and sustainability of electrifying existing HDVs, and also monitor the progress of an electrified truck’s performance in real-life scenarios. Paavo Lehmonen, the Development Manager at Stara, said: “If the electrification of this single truck justifies retrofitting costs and meets the functionality expectations, then we can benefit from the results on a larger scale for the entire fleet”.

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