Webasto and Goldhofer electrify ground support equipment

The future of flying 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 emission-free within the next few years. Webasto, one of the world’s 100 largest automotive suppliers, together with Goldhofer, a manufacturer of vehicles for heavy-duty and special transport purposes, intend to help achieve this goal: 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 optimized »SHERPA« E New Gen to airport roads, among others. The advantages of an electrically-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 emission-free operation on airport aprons around the world. Some 30 tons 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 subjected 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.

Together, Webasto and Goldhofer want to continue supporting airports on their way to achieving zero emissions. “We are very pleased to be one of the first manufacturers to offer highly attractive electric variants in the cargo and pushback tractor segment. The trend toward zero-emission drive systems is highly dynamic and irreversible. We are happy to have Webasto as a reliable partner at our side and look forward to continued cooperation,” emphasizes Jochen Preßmar, R&D Project Manager for electric vehicles at Goldhofer. “We are very pleased to have gained a strong and experienced partner in Goldhofer, with whom we can drive forward electrification in the field of ground support equipment, thereby making our contribution to achieving emission-free airports around the world. In order to be able to meet the ever-increasing demands on electric ground support vehicles we will continue to offer, and constantly expand, a comprehensive portfolio of solutions for electric vehicles. As a driver of electromobility, Goldhofer plays a key role in stimulating us to develop future products for electric vehicles in the airport sector that meet market requirements as closely as possible,” says Manuel Kagelmann, Head of Product Portfolio Domain Batteries at Webasto, looking to the future.

Cargo / pushback tractors
Conventional tractors
»BISON« E Family
towbarless tractors