MOL and Volvo Penta unite to develop full electric 4X4 RoRo tractors

MOL has commenced trials of its full electric 4X4 RoRo tractor in partnership with Volvo Penta
(Images courtesy of Volvo Penta)

MOL and Volvo Penta are collaborating on trials for a pioneering electric 4X4 RoRo tractor, the RME225, utilizing DFDS’s facilities at the Port of Ghent. This collaboration focuses on integrating a purpose-built electric driveline aiming to support customers in remaining competitive and profitable through the energy transition. The initiative aims to elevate material handling operations for fleet owners such as terminal operators, to new heights.

MOL, a manufacturer of heavy industry and port handling equipment, in partnership with Volvo Penta, has commenced trials of its full electric 4X4 RoRo tractor, the RME225. The vehicle features a Volvo Penta driveline consisting of three battery packs totaling 270 kWh of installed energy, an EPT802 gearbox, and two 200 kW propulsion motors. A separate 50 kW motor powers the hydraulic system and the fifth wheel. Designed for high productivity and performance, the RME225 aims to operate a full shift and provide an alternative to its diesel counterparts. This collaboration represents a significant step towards more sustainable and efficient port logistics.

The trials are taking place at the Port of Ghent, a strategic hub for DFDS – one of Northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics companies. DFDS has provided support for the trials, including a dedicated operator and a specially designated monitoring space. This collaborative effort reflects DFDS’ effort to reduce the company’s environmental impact, aligning with its recent procurement of 100 electric trucks from Volvo, adding to the 125 heavy electric trucks previously acquired.

“The technical progress achieved through our collaboration with Volvo Penta in creating the full electric 4×4 RME225 terminal tractor demonstrates our efforts to expand our range of new emission-free vehicles specifically for the rigorous needs of heavy-duty port equipment,” says Conrad Verplancke, sales engineer from MOL. “We’re ensuring that it performs reliably, efficiently, and effectively in real-life operational scenarios.”

As part of this trial, MOL is conducting rigorous range tests on the RME225 to fine-tune vehicle performance and drivability. These tests are crucial for ensuring the vehicle can handle heavy loads and operate efficiently under the demanding schedules typical of port operations. The aim is to address the unique challenges faced by port-based vehicles, enhancing their performance, range, and reliability.

“The value of electrification extends beyond the initial technology investment,” explains Jeroen Overvelde, area sales manager at Volvo Penta. “The full electric tractor matches its diesel counterparts in performance, with potentially higher acceleration rates and available torque on the RME225. “Success hinges on delivering superior performance and optimizing total cost of ownership (TCO).”

Electrifying the 4X4 RoRo tractor offers multiple benefits. It reduces tailpipe emissions, contributing to cleaner air quality, and can lower vibrations, creating a more pleasant and quieter working environment. This is particularly advantageous in confined spaces on and off container ships. “As fleet owner and terminal operator at the Port of Ghent, we are happy to support these trials and the development and testing of the electric 4X4 RME225 RoRo tractor,” says Raf De Wit, Terminal Director at DFDS Ghent terminal. “This is in line with our efforts to decarbonize our land-based activities, improve the working environment, and increase the efficiency of our port operations.”

The partnership among MOL, Volvo Penta, and DFDS at the Port of Ghent exemplifies a dedicated collaboration geared towards innovation amid the energy transition in the maritime and logistics sectors. This initiative shows the companies’ commitment to reducing their greenhouse gas footprint in the global transition to more sustainable transportation solutions.