Electric trucks are coming: Volvo opens orders for heavy duty, Volta targets US market
The shift to electric trucks is accelerating, with Volvo Trucks, the world's second-largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks, opening orders for its heavy-duty electric truck range, and Volta announcing plans to begin US manufacturing. The range of Volvo electric trucks includes the Volvo FH, Volvo FM, and Volvo FMX, and all are being produced at the CO2-neutral Tuve plant in Gothenburg, at least initially, and will join its range of electric medium duty trucks. "This is a milestone for Volvo Trucks," said Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks. "There is a lot of interest from customers to place orders for these fantastic trucks.
"Until now we have mainly offered customers and partners to sign letters of intent to buy, but now we start to sign firm orders, which is a major step forward for electrification." Throughout 2021, Volvo Trucks took orders and letters of intent to buy for more than 1,100 electric trucks in over 20 countries, with most sourced from Norway, Sweden, and Germany. The good news for Australians is that, while Volvo Trucks is naturally targeting European dominance, its electric trucks are also making their way to our shores.
In March, Volvo Group announced that it had recently completed a multi-faceted testing program of its medium sized FL Electric to see how fast-charging and Australia's extreme heat can affect the truck's range, battery charging, and vehicle performance. Similarly, a Volvo FL is being used by Australian trucking giant Linfox and iconic Australian beer brand Victoria Bitter to complete deliveries from Asahi Beverages' distribution centre in Melbourne's west. Volvo Trucks' is not the only electric trucking company to be rolling out new offerings, with Anglo-Swedish "Trucks as a Service" (TaaS) company Volta Trucks publicly debuting two new variations of its Volta Zero.
The upcoming 7.5- and 12-tonne variants will complete a four-model range of Volta Zero trucks, which also include the 16- and 18-tonne variants. Designed for city distribution, the original 16-tonne Volta Zero uses either a standard 150kWh, or the higher capacity 225kWh battery pack to deliver a manufacturer-estimated range of 145-kilometres and 200-kilometres, respectively. Volta Trucks also announced this week that it will introduce 100% battery electric commercial vehicles into North America in 2023, led by a Volta Zero Class 7 truck which is equivalent to the existing European 16-ton truck, with a dry or refrigerated cargo box.
"Since the launch of Volta Trucks in 2019 and the reveal of the Volta Zero in September 2020, we have used London, Paris, and other European launch cities, where fleets are increasingly converting to electric, to prove that our concepts align to customers' needs," founder Carl-Magnus Nordern said. "With more than 6,000 vehicle pre-orders in hand, from some of Europe's largest fleet operators, it is time to expand our geographic horizons and look towards the significant market opportunity in North America." Finally, earlier this week, another electric truck maker - this time Nikola - said that it had begun serial production of its battery-electric Tre semi-trailer trucks at its manufacturing facility in Coolidge, Arizona.
Designed for deliveries of up to 560-kilometres thanks to a 753kWh battery pack delivering 645-horsepower and a charge time from 10% to 80% at 240kW of 2 hours, the truck can reach a top speed of 120km/h. Meanwhile, Nikola is also planning to deliver a fuel-cell EV (FCEV) model of the Tre next year, which will boast a range of up to 800-kilometres and a refuelling time of 20 minutes. Joshua S.
Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years.
His preferred mode of transport is his feet.