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Rosenbauer brings the world its first hybrid electric fire truck

Updated: Oct 5

Written by Theo Koenig - October 01, 2020

Edited by Asaf Kedem and Kfir Kedem

Developed in partnership with Volvo Penta, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group, the Revolutionary Technology fire truck (RT for short) was officially unveiled by Rosenbauer last week. Rosenbauer, an Austrian-based fire service vehicle manufacturer, have developed the RT by pooling together 3 years of work from their Concept Fire Truck, Advanced Technology, and Efficient Technology projects.

The result is a truck equipped with an electric drivetrain developed by Volvo, a diesel engine range-extender implemented with long-term partner BMW, a hydropneumatic chassis provided by US-supplier Hendrickson, and an independent wheel suspension system by Kessler. Further involvement from Knorr-Bremse, Rögelberg, and others shows that the RT is a true testament to modern-day partnerships in the automotive world.

The electric drivetrain is what will have caught the eyes of most headlines. It is equipped with 2 electric motors and built-in batteries, weighing an estimated 550 kg, sitting between the two axles. What will set it apart is the use of a 6-cylinder diesel engine “range-extender” which will act as backup power and guarantees an operating time far exceeding legal requirements (EN1846). This means the drivetrain is also loaded with an electric generator and finally, a two-speed gearbox. Unfortunately, no information has been given regarding the range, due mainly to the fact this will depend on the energy requirements of the pump operation and driving distance, which is customizable for each truck.

The hidden gem of RT lies more so in the independent suspension and hydropneumatic chassis than in the drivetrain. A distance of 26 cm lies between the road and the surface of the RT at standstill, meaning that firefighters will have an easier time getting in and out of the truck. Under scenarios of floods or rough terrain, however, the truck can be elevated up to 45 cm for underaxle clearance. Going further, the axle suspension, in conjunction with the use of the all-wheel steering system, gives the RT a much-improved turning radius compared to conventional fire trucks. Allowing the back wheels to turn provides the RT with a turn-circle of 12.5 m in diameter (see picture below), which is remarkable for a truck of its length, especially given that legal requirements are set to 17 m (EN1846).

Each RT can be customized to fit the demands of the intended environment. Rosenbauer will be able to provide the customers with 4 different options of extinguishing propulsion pumps. Additionally, a variety of built-in systems such as an exciting integration of arial drones for image-based analysis, permanent connection to the control center and an autonomous W-LAN network will be provided. Finally, the RT comes with access to the Rosenbauer EMEREC data center for incidents reports, camera images, building blueprints, and so on.As of now, the RT is being shipped to fire departments in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Dubai for customer testing.


Auto Trendy’s take:

In the days since the launch, many have questioned the necessity for an electric fire truck. In our eyes, the implementation of this technology goes far beyond zero-emission and noise reduction. For starters, the increased torque at low speeds will help the truck with acceleration to ensure that the firefighters can get to emergency scenarios in decreased time. Furthermore, the drivetrain allows for an unprecedented all-wheel turning radius that will prove useful in congested cities and tight alleys. Additionally, Rosenbauer states that the lower center of gravity provided by the positioning of the battery gives the RT a much-improved stability, especially compared to conventional diesel drivetrains, that enhances steering and reduces the danger of tipping. What will set the RT further apart is the meticulous attention to detail. While reducing entry/exit heights of the RT at standstill may seem rather insignificant, firefighters might come to value the extra consideration. Likewise, the use of a rotatable driver and commander seat for improved communication, electronic rearview mirrors for eliminating blind spots and zero glass fiber reinforced plastic for windshields (eliminates harmful particles emitted under heat conditions) are just a handful of small details that will go a long way in making firefighters feel appreciated. Obviously without information regarding price ranges, a cost analysis cannot be made but from a purely technological standpoint, the RT is undoubtedly impressive. Given the future potential of electric drivetrains, coupled with Rosenbauer’s extensive experience with firefighting equipment, the RT seems almost unsurpassable in the current market.