A solar-powered electric truck climbed steep slopes to the top of the planet's tallest volcano and set a new record for electric vehicles.
The Swiss Peak Evolution team from Gebrüder Weiss successfully conquered the western edge of Mount Ojos del Salado, located in Chile at an altitude of 6,500 meters, with its electric truck.
Logistics here was intermodal — by land, sea and ocean. First, the electric truck was delivered to Chile from Switzerland via Rotterdam by sea.. From there it was transported overland to the Atacama region. There the team began preparing to climb the salt lake Maricunga in Chile, located at an altitude of 3400 meters. This was followed by the conquest of the top of the volcano.
The expedition vehicle is built on the basis of the Aebi VT450 multi-purpose transporter, but instead of gasoline it is driven by two electric motors with a power of 120 kW each. It is equipped with a 300 V rated EcoVolta lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 90 kWh and has a range of 200 kilometers.
The electric truck's battery is charged using four solar panels on the roof and 16 panels that fold out while resting on the ground.. The panels have a peak power of 370 W and an efficiency of 22.5%. The power potential for a range of about 150 km can be achieved in about five hours.
The team has already returned from Chile. Transport and logistics company Gebrüder Weiss will test an autonomous truck again next year during an international research expedition to Greenland. Photo: Gebrüder Weiss
Solar energy is returned to the truck via a triple redundant DC charging system (if components fail), plus five solar charge controllers that maximize the energy produced. There is also a 230 VAC inverter so the team can charge their equipment.
Unlike vehicles with internal combustion engines, the electric version does not lose power at high altitudes. However, the extreme terrain and environmental conditions of the world's tallest volcano gave the solar-electric truck and its team of three experienced climbers a hard time.
“Despite these extreme conditions, our specially designed vehicle was able to travel higher than any other electric vehicle, let alone a solar car. We have been preparing for this moment for four years, so giving up was never an option,” he said. Peak Evolution CEO and developer Patrick Koller.