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Get used to the name: Meritor’s 14Xe electric powertrain becoming ubiquitous

Tier 1 supplier gets Thomas Built electric school bus contract among several deals

Meritor Inc. is starting regular production of its fully integrated electric powertrain and announced a 5-year contract to supply Thomas Built Buses beginning 2024. (Photo: Meritor)

Meritor Inc., a supplier of drivetrain, mobility, braking, aftermarket and electric powertrains, announced a raft of deals Tuesday that will make the name of its 14Xe chassis hard to ignore as it spreads throughout trucks, buses and industrial applications.

Watch now: Pressure is on for more zero-emission trucks

It is a big deal because Meritor (NYSE: MTOR) competes with other suppliers, including Dana Inc., BorgWarner and Eaton Corp., in pursuing a conversion of significant portions of their business aimed at internal combustion engine-driven vehicles to battery-electric propulsion.

The pressure on truck OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to offer electric alternatives is intensifying as California’s Advanced Clean Truck Rule will require 9% of trucks sold in the state to have zero emissions by 2024. Fifteen other states may follow California in requiring clean trucks.

“OEMs are continuing to invest in engine technologies supporting cleaner and more efficient operation or looking to other sources for internal combustion engines.”

Andrew Wrobel, senior powertrain analyst, Rhein Associates.

“OEMs are continuing to invest in engine technologies supporting cleaner and more efficient operation or looking to other sources for internal combustion engines,” said Andrew Wrobel, senior analyst at powertrain forecasting firm Rhein Associates.

Business book grows

Meritor has touted its maturing expertise in electrification for more than a year. The 14Xe is being built in Asheville, North Carolina, and claims a 500-pound weight savings over an ICE powertrain with more space and packaging advances for electric motors.

Supply agreements with Paccar Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) for Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks, Lion Electric (NYSE: LEV) and startup Volta Trucks were signed over the last couple of years.

“Our 14Xe ePowertrain has been thoroughly tested hauling loads and logging real-world miles in various conditions and multiple applications, allowing us to offer the industry a proven, all-electric, zero-emissions solution,” Chris Villavarayan, Meritor CEO and president, said in a press release.

On Tuesday, Meritor added a five-year deal beginning in January 2024 for the next generation of Thomas Built electric school buses, the first electric chassis work it has won from Daimler Trucks North America. 

“The versatility and robustness of the integrated 14Xe ePowertrain is a great complement to the next-gen, all-electric Jouley from Thomas Built,” said Kendra Eads, Thomas Built Buses vice president of engineering and technology.

Fuel cell drayage?

The switch by Thomas Built to Meritor from startup Proterra Inc., in which it is a part owner, coincides with DTNA’s hiring in October of former Meritor vice president of global electrification, T.J. Reid, as president of remarketing.

The 14Xe ePowertrain system is in full production and suitable for a range of applications across Class 5-8 commercial vehicles.

Meritor also announced a supply agreement with Hexagon Purus for a near-term development program and eventual production of two hydrogen fuel cell applications, a Class 8 drayage truck and yard hauler. Purus, part of Hexagon Composites, provides hydrogen high-pressure cylinders, battery packs and vehicle systems integration for fuel cell electric and battery electric vehicles.

Meritor subsidiary Transportation Power Inc. has significant experience in electrifying yard tractors. Hexagon Purus and Meritor are already partnersing to integrate the 14Xe into Hexagon’ Purus’ Class 6-8 vehicles. 

“As the push for electrification continues, we are glad to partner with Meritor, who shares our goal of meeting the zero-emissions challenge,” said Todd Sloan, Hexagon Purus Systems president.

In addition, a collaboration with BAE Systems will deliver electrification for the industrial and defense markets using BAE’s systems integration and power electronics to incorporate its power management system with Meritor’s ePowertrain.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.