Texelis Celeris: a tailored 4×4 full military mobility solution

Paolo Valpolini

Active for decades in the international transport and defence market, in the military domain Texelis is currently producing the mobility segment of the Serval 4×4 vehicle for the French Army, the vehicle being produced in partnership with Nexter. Based on the experience acquired with that programme, the company based in Limoges, central France, is now launching Celeris, a 4×4 full military solution that can be adapted to the needs of industrial customers willing to develop chassis in full partnership an armoured vehicle based on a non-commercial

The main advantage of developing a military vehicle on a commercial chassis is cost, the high numbers of commercial products allowing for scale savings. On the other hand performances are not optimised for military use and in many cases the availability of spares might not be guaranteed in the long term. On the other hand developing a purpose-made chassis for vehicles which production will be limited in quantities would boost cost to unacceptable levels.

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With its new Celeris Texelis wants to propose a military-tailored 4×4 mobility solution that simplifies the work of the vehicle manufacturer. The Celeris leverages the experience acquired with the French Army Serval programme, also known as VBMR-L (Véhicule Blindé Multi-rôle Léger or light multirole armoured vehicle), which production should overcome the 2,000 vehicles target. In the last six years Texelis acquired a considerable know-how that allowed the company to switch from its traditional role limited to the design and supply of axles, to that of offering complete mobility solutions, working in close relation with major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The Serval programme was thus key for the Texelis growth, as well as for developing new components, and according to company sources around 90% of the Celeris components were qualified during the Serval development. This reduces costs, but also ensures full availability of spares for at least 40 years. Not only, all improvements made based on the French Army lessons learned that will lead to improvements for the Serval will impact Celeris, that will therefore profit of a spiral upgrade process at limited costs.

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Putting costs on the X-axis, the Celeris full mobility solution is definitely closer to the full military chassis than to the commercial one, however those costs include much more that the simple kit, according to Texelis. The company experts will work closely with the customer in the initial phase, to establish the exact layout of the kit that will be provided, including all electric and vetronic elements, Texelis growing from a pure mechanical company to an integrated structure capable to provide the whole mobility solution. Overall Celeris is made of 12 base kits and 30 optional kits, and can be tailored to the customer’s needs.

Usually Texelis would not produce the rolling frame in its Limoges facility, but will rather prepare what is sometimes defined as an “Ikea kit” to be delivered to the customer. However while the Swedish furniture manufacturer adds tools and paper instructions, Texelis will also send specialised personnel at the customer facility, who will accompany the local workforce during the learning curve. Following the roll-out of the first prototypes the customer will become fully autonomous, although the company will remain in the background for any issue, and will of course ensure logistic support with spares. That said, should a customer prefer receiving the rolling frame already assembled, the Limoges-based company would of course comply.

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As previously said, the customer will benefit of all possible developments of the French Army Serval, Texelis adding to its catalogue of kits upgraded systems that any customer might decide to insert into its vehicles.

The Celeris key elements are the Texelis T750 axles, which feature differential with differential lock, and wheel end with CTI internal seals, tires size proposed as standard being 14R20. The front axle is rated at 8,500 kg load, while the rear axle load depends on the type of suspension adopted and is 9,500 kg with trailing arms and 8,500 kg with double wishbone. Adopting a 90 mm offset rim, the front track is 2,134 mm and the rear one 2,140 mm. The Celeris can be adapted to self-supporting body vehicles as well as to ladder-frame vehicles.

The Celeris rolling frame has a weight of around 3,500 kg without tires and 4,300 kg with tires, and the typical armoured vehicle build around it will have a gross vehicle mass between 13 and 18.5 tonnes.

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The driveline offered as standard by Texelis is based on a Cummins ISL9 Euro 3 diesel engine providing an output of 375 hp (275 kW), coupled to an Allison 3200SP transmission with two speed plus neutral transfer case. With standard tires the maximum speed is in excess of 100 km/h depending on configuration, maximum speed in reverse 15 km/h, minimum speed in lock up and torque converter low speed being 5 km/h.

The most obvious option for a customer would be to stick to the standard driveline. Should one customer prefer a different solution, as for example the end customer has its vehicles powered by another engine, and should the numbers ensure a final saving from the end-customer standpoint, Texelis could well integrate another driveline.

In fact something might happen relatively quickly in that sense; as the French Army has launched the development of a Serval with a hybrid powerpack, this might well become soon part of the Celeris offer, and EDR On-Line would not be surprised to see such a solution surfacing soon at one of the incoming exhibitions.

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The customer to whom Texelis addresses its Celeris proposal is typically one that needs to manufacture between 10 and 100 vehicles, with high-end mobility quality. Texelis announced it has already a launch customer for its new solution, although no names were made, EDR On-Line understanding the geographic area being North-America, which does not means the end-user is in that same area. A first prototype vehicle has already been produced.

The Celeris kits will be produced in parallel with the Serval chassis, the company production capacity exceeding current needs, hence a considerable growth margin remains to maintain delivery times under control.

The Celeris 4×4 proposal is the first of a series, as Texelis as already working on a 6×6 solution. As for an 8×8 proposal, this is something which is being considered, but it will require a wholly different approach and is therefore definitely well on the right of the time axis.

Photos courtesy Texelis