Goldhofer and Webasto initiative

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The future of flying almost certainly lies in alternative propulsion systems, both in the sky and on the ground.

It is already the declared goal of many airports worldwide to become emissions-free within the next few years. Webasto, one of the world’s 100 largest automotive suppliers, together with Goldhofer, intends to help achieve this goal. To that end Goldhofer is electrifying its products in the field of ground support equipment, while Webasto is not only supplying batteries for the vehicles but also the required electronics know-how and technical support.

Together, the two Bavarian companies are bringing the optimised SHERPA E New Gen to airport roads, among others. The advantages of an electric-powered cargo tractor over one with an internal combustion engine are numerous: reduced CO2 emissions, lower noise emissions, less local particulate pollution, a more pleasant driving experience (as there is no longer a need to shift gears), a significantly more positive torque curve and equivalent performance. Moreover, electric tractors are less maintenance intensive. Since 2017, the SHERPA E has already been providing quiet and emissions-free operation on airport aprons around the world. Some 30 tonens of CO2 per annum can be saved by using it.

Depending on the version, the SHERPA E uses either one or two 35 kWh batteries from Webasto. When selecting the battery, Goldhofer took various key aspects into consideration. One of the most important was that the battery systems are of modular design, which allows them to be used across various different vehicles.

“We have diverse vehicle ranges of different sizes and requirement levels. We identified Webasto as an all-rounder for the SHERPA and BISON product segment, which offers us as a company the option of modular construction,” is how Rüdiger Dube, Head of Product Management Airport Technology at Goldhofer, describes the decision-making process. For Goldhofer, it was also important for the batteries to already be approved for road use, which is the case here, as they have been subject to electromagnetic compatibility testing and therefore do not interfere with radio or electronic components. In terms of battery technology, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries were selected because they offer the highest energy density.

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