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Urban Lab 1: an experimental vehicle for urban distribution

With the current and upcoming challenges that goods distribution in urban environments have to face, Renault Trucks is developing a number of different solutions to offer its customers. In line with this strategy, the manufacturer is joining forces with bodybuilder Gemco E-Trucks B.V to develop an experimental vehicle offering a loading sill at ground level. The vehicle is called Urban Lab 1, and is designed to make loading and unloading easier and quicker. It is a genuine technological step forward for hauliers, and also for urban environments in general.

Urban Lab 1 is a new Renault Trucks project designed to improve goods distribution in towns. Developed with the bodybuilder Gemco E-Trucks B.V, this experimental vehicle opens up new possibilities in the field of urban distribution by bringing the loading sill down to ground level.

For, on this vehicle, electrifying the transmission from the powertrain actually modifies the truck's architecture and allows greater freedom in defining the way the body is built and used. What makes the Urban Lab 1 so distinctive is that its suspension system makes it possible to lower the entire truck to ground level. This makes loading and unloading goods much easier and as much as one third quicker compared with a similar operation on a conventional vehicle. The haulier obviously benefits from this since it allows the truck's operational potential to be fully optimised. The concept will also benefit urban environments in general since, by reducing the length of time the truck is stationary, it is able to free up the delivery area more rapidly.

This vehicle has been based on a 16 tons Midlum DXi 5 and offers a payload of 8 to 9 tons according to version. It is driven by two latest generation "wheel motors" in the rear wheels which are supplied by a generator coupled to a Diesel engine. A battery pack enables the vehicle to travel in "all-electric" mode and thereby keep noise level to a minimum during final approach phases. The lowering and raising of the truck and its bodywork is carried out by a specific suspension system equipping the front and rear wheels. This operation is activated when the vehicle is at a standstill by means of a switch in the cab.
 
An experimental vehicle, the Urban Lab 1 is one of several concepts Renault Trucks has been testing to improve goods distribution in towns as part of the joint transport system projects being carried out by the LUTB (Lyon Urban Truck&Bus) competitive cluster and the CityFret programme. It is part of a research programme involving a variety of partners which seeks to find ways of satisfying the needs its customers and the general public have now or will have in the future.
  
At present, more than eight out of ten Europeans live in towns. Their demands as consumers to receive deliveries quickly and efficiently are as strong as their demands as citizens for a better quality of life. Trucks have a vital role to play at the heart of this dichotomy. As a manufacturer, Renault Trucks aims to put the right truck, with the right energy in the right place. That is why it is offering the broadest possible range of urban vehicles so that trucks can be as closely adapted to their assignments as possible. It also offers a range of Clean Tech vehicles, running on alternative energies (electricity, hybrid and CNG) which is constantly being improved. Renault Trucks is also involved in a certain number of experimental projects aiming to optimise urban goods transport in the future, carrying out its own research work, particularly with the largest electrical urban distribution truck in the world, currently undergoing operational tests for one year in Lyon.

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