With their cross-country routes and round-the-clock schedules, big rigs seemed implausible candidates for electric powertrains.
But Jason Roycht of Robert Bosch Corp. may have a solution. Roycht, Bosch’s regional business unit leader for commercial vehicles, is overseeing development of a hybrid electric powertrain for Class 8 trucks.
In September, the German supplier announced a partnership with Utah-based Nikola Motor Co. to develop a hybrid powertrain for long-haul trucks.
The powertrain will mate Bosch’s eAxle — which includes an electric motor, transmission and power electronics — to a hydrogen fuel cell. Nikola hopes to put its big rig on the road by 2021.
“We are really excited about it,” said Roycht, who is quarterbacking this project for Bosch. “Our collaboration with Nikola will prove [Bosch’s technology] in the market.”
Roycht joined Bosch in 1996 after earning his engineering degree.
After several assignments, he got his big break in 2009, when he was named customer team leader for the Ford account. Over the next five years, Roycht won contracts to supply engine control units, fuel injectors, sensors and other componentry for Ford’s EcoBoost engine family.
Next, Bosch asked Roycht to create a business unit to develop electric powertrains, connectivity and self-driving systems for commercial trucks, construction vehicles and agricultural equipment.
The Nikola project will be an acid test for Bosch’s technology. Diesel trucks can travel up to 1,000 miles on one tank of fuel, and they are powerful enough to haul an 80,000-pound payload.
A truck with a battery-powered electric motor can’t hope to match that performance, but a hybrid powertrain might prove competitive. It’s Roycht’s job to make that happen.
“We’ve been quite active,” Roycht said. “Some of the projects we are doing in these fields — some announced and some not — has been very exciting. We’ve exceeded our targets.”
-- David Sedgwick