When Electra Vehicles needed a space-saving compressor solution, the company turned to Gardner Denver for an innovative solution.
Established in 2018, Electra Commercial Vehicles is a UK-based company that designs and builds low impact commercial vehicles for use in busy city centres. It now boasts a 20-strong fleet and lays claim to the world’s first electric gritter.
The company has benefited from rapid interest in electric vehicles which are now dominating the news cycles. Yet even just two years ago the prospect of bringing a fully electric lorry to market seemed unrealistic.
In 2018, most major manufacturers were still stuck in development and had yet to introduce a functioning electric lorry to public roads. Recognising a gap in the market, as well as a growing need to lower HGV emissions, Sid Sadique founded Electra Commercial Vehicles. The business’s aim was simple: clean up city air and lower carbon emissions by building a range of low impact commercial vehicles that maintained all the capabilities of diesel-powered models.
At first, Electra was purchasing diesel trucks from partnered suppliers and stripping them down to fit a battery package. However, working this way proved a challenge, with much of the lorry’s original design needing changes to accommodate the equipment necessary to transition to full electric without taking up too much space. The auto compressor was no exception to this redesign and it soon became clear that a ‘conventional’ fitting would not suffice.
Most diesel lorries will incorporate a compressor within the engine build but electric vehicles demand much more of a subsystem and cannot be equipped in the same way. To overcome this challenge, Electra approached Gardner Denver in late 2018 to develop a bespoke solution.
The business had previously worked with a piston-based compressor but found that Gardner Denver’s rotary vane compressor provided a number of benefits, specifically lower noise and less vibration, which made it particularly suitable for HGVs working in residential neighbourhoods.
As conversations progressed, it was decided that a variant of Gardner Denver’s Hydrovane compressor would be best-suited to the task. Specifically, Gardner Denver developed a bespoke package design of its ultra-quiet TX02 compressor, which maintained full functionality without compromising any of the compressor’s benefits.
"We were impressed with Gardner Denver’s flexibility and support. They were able to adapt their TX02 package solution to work with our demands which have allowed Electra to speed up its assembly time and bring more fully electric commercial vehicles on the road. This work has allowed us to grow the fleet and respond to customer’s growing demand for low-impact HGVs."
The TX02 is a modular package design that can be easily modified for specific applications. From simple modifications, such as relocating the air filtration unit, through to the relocation and redesign of major components to ensure compatibility with their existing vehicle design, the engineering teams from Electra and Gardner Denver worked together to design the optimal compressor package. These design changes had no impact on the overall design of the auxiliary frame or the space economy and low noise capabilities of the TX02 compressor.
Ultimately, the bespoke model served as a blueprint for all future builds and allowed Electra to speed up its assembly time, enabling the company to cut the assembly time of its vehicles by four hours, doubling the company’s production rate.
The project demonstrates Gardner Denver’s ability to respond to retrofit challenges and the unique demands of fully electric vehicles, highlighting the company’s philosophy of ‘Design, Develop and Deliver.
The work has been such a success that Electra has since doubled in size and the company has an agreement in place with Scottish Government to help meet ambitious sustainability targets and is now also introducing vehicles in Manchester city centre.