Gothenburg, Sweden - Electric mobility remains firmly in the spotlight around the world, extending its reach to the backbone of commercial activity, the trucking sector. Volvo Trucks is launching a complete range of all-electric trucks (first in Europe) and the models seem surprisingly capable, according to the statistics provided by the manufacturer. The company believes the time is right for a rapid upswing in electrification of heavy road transport.
This positive outlook is based on the ability of Volvo’s electric trucks to meet a broad variety of transport needs. In the EU for example, almost half of all truck transports could be electrified soon, the company’s spokesmen say. Large national and international transport buyers are showing strong interest in electric trucks. This is being driven by their own ambitious climate goals, as well as consumers demand for de-carbonisation and cleaner transports.
What about electric trucks for South Africa?
“More and more transport companies are realising they need to start their electrification journey right now, both with the environment in mind and for competitive reasons to satisfy customer requirements for sustainable shipping. With our wide and deep offering, it is totally feasible for far more transport companies to go electric,” says Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks.
No electric models are being made available in South Africa just yet. Volvo Trucks South Africa is, however, currently testing two LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) models locally and will explore the feasibility of electric trucks for the local market going forward.
Off-road electric trucks
In addition to the launch of the FH and FM in electric form, a new electric Volvo FMX makes its debut. Volvo Trucks believes this truck creates new ways to make construction transport operations both quieter and cleaner.
Production of the new electric models for Europe will start in the second half of 2022. They join the Volvo FL Electric and Volvo FE Electric for urban transports that have been in serial production since 2019 for the same market.
In North America, sales of the Volvo VNR Electric started in December 2020. With the sales start of the new truck models, Volvo Trucks now has a line-up of six electric trucks, which makes it the most complete commercial electric truck range in the industry.
Can electric trucks really meet logistics needs?
With the addition of the new trucks with higher load capacities, more powerful drivelines and range of up to 300km, Volvo Trucks’ electric portfolio could cover around 45% of all goods transported in Europe. This is according to Eurostat statistics “Road Freight Transport by distance” (2018), 45% of all goods transported on road in Europe travelled less than 300km.
This makes it possible to make an important contribution to lower the climate impact from road freights, which according to official statistics account for about 6% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the EU.
“There is huge potential to electrify truck transports in Europe, and also in other parts of the world, in the very near future,” says Alm. “To prove this, we have set the ambitious goal to have electric trucks account for half of our sales in Europe by 2030. And these three new extra heavy trucks we are now launching mark a giant step towards reaching this target.”
What about long-haul trucking operations with electric trucks?
Looking further ahead, even long-distance heavy transports will be able to be done with electric vehicles, according to Volvo Trucks. To meet the challenging demands for both high load capacity and a much longer range, Volvo Trucks plans to use hydrogen fuel cells to generate the electricity.
“This technology is developing rapidly, and our ambition is also to make the long driving distances electrified, using both batteries and fuel cells,” Alm notes. “Our aim is to start selling fuel-cell electric trucks in the second part of this decade and we are confident we can make this happen.”
Here’s Volvo Trucks’ electric commercial vehicle offering for Europe:
Volvo FH Electric, for regional and intercity transport
Volvo FM Electric, for heavy local transports and regional distribution
Volvo FMX Electric, for cleaner and quieter construction transport
Volvo FE Electric, for local and city distribution, waste transport
Volvo FL Electric, for local and city distribution.
The program also includes the Volvo VNR Electric for the North American market.
Technical facts on Volvo Trucks’ electric line-up
Volvo FH, FM and FMX Electric:
Range up to 300km
Continuous power rated at 490kW
Max torque rated at 2400Nm
Battery capacity up to 540kWh
Gross combination weight: GCW up to 44 tons depending on model.
Volvo FE Electric:
Range up to 200km
Continuous power rated at 330kW
Max torque up to 850Nm
Battery capacity up to 264kWh
Gross combination weight: GCW up to 27 tons.
Volvo FL Electric:
Range up to 300 km,
Continuous power rated at 165kW
Max torque up to 425Nm
Battery capacity up to 396kWh
Gross combination weight: GCW up to 16 tons.
For more information on reducing your fleet’s emissions or to learn more about electric trucks, you can visit the Volvo Trucks website. We’ve reached out to Volvo Trucks with regards to charging times for the massive battery packs fitted to the FH (540kWh) and will update you as soon as we have this information.