Volvo Trucks will be launching its first commercial electric truck offering, the 16-tonne GVW Volvo FL Electric, within the near future. Production and sales are slated to begin in 2019.
That relates simply to sales in Europe, of course, where the initial run of such trucks is now being put to use by pilot program customers — including the garbage collection firm Renova and the haulage firm TGM.
The new Volvo FL Electric offering reportedly features a variable design when it comes to battery pack capacities and ranges — with capacities of 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) and 300 kWh available. Fast charging capability of up to 150 kW is available (via CCS/Combo2) as well.
The model is also outfitted with a 185 kW electric drivetrain (130 kW continuous output), which offers max torque of 425 N·m.
Owing to the reality that the offering is electric, it can be used indoors in facilities where such vehicles would otherwise not be granted access — representing perhaps an initial niche application. Noise levels are of course much lower than with a comparable diesel powered vehicle as well, further extending potential niche applications (late-night shifts that would no longer be so offensiveness to residents).
The head of product strategy for Volvo FL and Volvo FE at Volvo Trucks, Jonas Odermalm, commented on the news: “From experience we know how important it is that cities, energy suppliers, and vehicle manufacturers cooperate in order for large-scale electrification to become a reality. With attractive incentives, agreed standards and a long-term strategy for urban planning and expansion of the charging infrastructure, the process can go much faster.”
Commenting further on the company’s overall electrification plans, Odermalm stated: “For instance, in order to ensure that raw materials for the batteries are extracted in a responsible way, the Volvo Group works with the Drive Sustainability network, which has a special function that monitors this issue. The Volvo Group is also involved in various projects where batteries from heavy electric vehicles get a second lease of life, reused for energy storage. All the questions about handling of batteries have not yet been solved, but we are working actively both within the Group and together with other actors to drive development and create the necessary solutions.”
Those comments are partly referring to the fact that some of the cobalt (and other materials) on the market ultimately derives from slave and child labor operations in some of the poorer parts of the world. There’s of course also the issue of possible environmental damage during extraction. Mining is still mining, after all, whether the materials will end up being used in electric vehicles or not.
That reality is part of what is driving the push by some towards widespread recycling of batteries once their working lives have ended. Tesla, for instance, is reportedly planning for large-scale recycling of its old batteries at its Gigafactory once the first batch of Model S cars reaches the ends of their working lives (2023?), and BYD is now setting up a battery recycling facility in China.
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