A superb, innovative technology company with international appeal, e-Traction develops complete electric powertrain systems for (city) buses and lorries. It was established in 1981 by Arjan Heinen. He designed an in-wheel direct drive motor called TheWheel, an electric motor fully integrated in the wheel. This has huge advantages. Sales director Peter Hulzebos said: ‘TheWheel consumes hardly any energy and is 15 per cent more efficient than other electric powertrain systems and even more than 60 per cent more efficient than a diesel drive. In addition, a bus with our technology has no environmental impact and it’s more comfortable due to the absence of engine noise and vibration.’
The wheel direct drive motors are now mounted in about 50 European buses, including in the hydrogen-powered bus that runs in Apeldoorn. ‘City buses and lorries are currently the most interesting application. Direct drive is the most suitable solution for this purpose and governments want clean city transport. This is the case not only in the Netherlands but also in Europe, North America and Asia.’
Under Chinese Wings
The growth market for e-traction is China. ‘The e-mobility market there is much further developed than in Europe or North America. In China, more than 450,000 buses are produced annually, a market that is at least ten times larger than Europe’s, accounting for 80 per cent of the global market demand.’
e-traction took on the challenge and opened its own office in Shanghai. Various joint venture possibilities were investigated, but in 2016 the company was taken over by Tanhas Group, a Chinese supplier for the automotive industry. Hulzebos is pleased with this development: ‘A very good partner, they are a complement to our technology, have the right inputs in the market and already deliver them. They are organised internationally and they have the financial resources to invest. We can now finally scale up to series production and applications other than city buses.’ Tanhas is now building a state-of-the-art factory in China with a capacity of 20,000 powertrains per year.
Innovation Centre in Apeldoorn
Despite the move to China, e-Traction’s R&D and technical support in Apeldoorn will continue, as will the production of the in-wheel electronics. About fifty people are working in the Apeldoorn headquarters and they are of many different nationalities: Swedish, Turkish, Mexican, Spanish, Romanian, Scottish, Italian, and Chinese. Here too the company's international character is evident.
Export Countries: Europe, China, North America