Volvo Group is set to become the first manufacturer to offer a fully-electric heavy-duty truck for sale as the Swedish group aims to show battery power is possible for the biggest commercial vehicles.
The world’s second-largest truckmaker announced on Thursday that electric heavy-duty trucks with a range of up to 300km would go on sale next year and enter production in 2022 as Volvo pushes for half its truck sales in Europe to be battery powered by the end of the decade.
“It’s important to go from nice statements to real action — this is one really big step in this direction,” Jessica Sandstrom, head of product and vehicle sales at Volvo Trucks, told the Financial Times.
Volvo first started with electrification with a hybrid bus in 2008 and last year started production of electric medium-duty trucks up to 26 tonnes in weight, used mostly in city deliveries and refuse collection.
It is now pushing into electric versions of all types of its heavy-duty trucks, which are up to 44 tonnes, and already has the first two construction battery-powered vehicles — a concrete mixer and a hooklift truck — in testing with Swedish building supplier Swerock.
Much of the focus on cutting emissions in transport has centred on passenger cars, but truck manufacturers are upping their game, too. Volvo is aiming for all its trucks to be fossil-free by 2040.
Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks, said he expected Volvo to take market share in electric trucks in spite of a number of start-ups such as Sweden’s Einride and the controversial US group Nikola entering the sector.
He added that Volvo wanted the total cost of ownership of an electric truck, which includes not just the vehicle but operational costs such as fuel, financing and second-hand value, to be “as comparable as possible” to diesel trucks.
That suggests electric trucks will cost more, but owners will hope to recoup most of that through cheaper fuel costs.
“We hope that society is prepared to pay more for deliveries done with climate-friendly trucks,” he said, adding that such vehicles would help Volvo’s customers reach their own sustainability goals.
The electric heavy-duty trucks that will go on sale next year will be for regional transport and urban construction, but not cross-country deliveries.
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Customers will be able to customise their trucks on Volvo’s modular platforms depending on how much range they want and how often they will need to charge their batteries.
Ms Sandstrom said Volvo would “stretch electric as far as we can”, but conceded that it would be difficult to use it for very long distance trucks and the heaviest vehicles. Volvo this week finalised a fuel cell joint venture with the world’s largest truck manufacturer, Germany’s Daimler.
She added that fuel cells or bio-liquefied natural gas could be possible solutions for those trucks, but the precise set-up would depend on discussions with politicians about the infrastructure. “Having a truck and the service around it, isn’t going to be enough. It’s about having a whole ecosystem around it,” she said.