German chassis specialists AL-KO revealed their new Electric Power Chassis, or EPC, at the Düsseldorf caravan and motorhome show. This prototype system – currently only tested on the Fiat Ducato chassis – is designed to provide an alternate propulsion source for front wheel-drive base vehicles which have traditional internal combustion engines. AL-KO has achieved this by fitting an electric motor within the chassis frame to drive the real wheels. This motor is powered by a battery pack, which is charged by the vehicle’s engine. All the required equipment will fit within the existing AL-KO chassis design, with no additional space required.
The electric motor can provide a range of up to 56 miles and a top speed of 34 mph, so it won’t be suitable for motorways and long distances. The system in its current form is aimed at the commercial market, and will allow drivers to switch to zero-emissions running when they enter urban centres, and switch back to fossil fuel power when they need to put in big mileages.
Despite the focus on the commercial market, there’s a lot of potential here for motorhome use. With the increasing number of low-emissions restriction zones materialising around European cities – such as London’s own Low Emissions Zone – a solution such as this would allow motorhomes to enter urban centres without incurring penalties. Also, the fact that the electric motor powers the rear wheels means that it can be used to provide additional traction when required, providing a ’van with four wheel drive capability to aid users on wet campsites or in an emergency. AL-KO suggested to us that this would not be difficult to achieve, once relevant tweaks are formulated for the base vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (ECU).