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Volvo Penta Begins Field Trials Of Battery-Electric Fire Truck

The market for fire trucks may be small, but Volvo Penta still wants to convert it to battery-electric powertrains.

While we at CleanTechnica tend to concentrate on electric cars, the EV revolution also involves all sorts of specialty vehicles like fork lifts, ferries, and police vehicles. The total numbers may be small compared to passenger car sales but the benefits to those smaller communities are just as valuable.

Volvo Penta fire truck

Image credit: Volvo Penta

In Norway, Gauldal Fire and Rescue in the city of Trøndelag has begun trials of a battery-electric emergency vehicle based on a Chinese-made Maxus EV 80 electric van. The specialized vehicle is ideal for rescue mission inside the long tunnels that permeate the Norwegian landscape — an environment that does not favor vehicles that suck up precious air supplies to power internal combustion engines.

Volvo Penta just announced it has been working with Rosenbauer, a European manufacturer of fire trucks, on the development of an electric drivetrain for those vehicles. Rosenbauer is far along in its plans to introduce a concept vehicle it calls “Revolutionary Technology” which will soon begin real-world customer testing with fire departments in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Dubai, according to a Volvo Penta press release.

Aside from the usual advantages of an electric vehicle such as reduced expenses for fuel and maintenance and quiet operation, the new fire truck accelerates to speed faster so it can get to fires more quickly. With its independent hydro-pneumatic suspension, it is also more maneuverable and stable than conventional fire trucks, making it suitable for navigating congested city streets.

“After many years of successful collaboration with Rosenbauer, we’re proud to be pioneering electric drivelines and partnering with them on this revolutionary project,” says Paul Jansson, chief project manager at Volvo Penta. “Our close partnership and deep understanding of our customers’ needs guided us in the development of the electric driveline for the new fire truck. Starting customer testing really brings home what the teams have managed to achieve together. This is our first industrial OEM partnership in the area of electromobility and it’s a big step towards creating a new product platform of the future.”

In addition to the battery pack, the new fire truck from Rosenbauer has an electric motor for each axle. There is also an onboard diesel generator to provide auxiliary power at the site of a fire if required.

“The teams at Volvo Penta and Rosenbauer have been working together closely to design a tailored solution that enables the electric fire truck to do its job in a more safe, effective and sustainable way than a conventional vehicle,” says Dieter Siegel, CEO at Rosenbauer International. “Together, we have created the most revolutionary and progressive vehicle in the fire service industry. We have been collaborating with Volvo Penta for many years, they are the experts in this field and they truly understand our needs.”

Volvo Penta is part of the Volvo Group, which allows it to leverage proven technologies from Volvo Trucks and Volvo Buses and adapted them to meet the performance requirements of a fire service application. “We see ourselves as partners, not suppliers to our OEM customers, so collaborating with Rosenbauer in this way is not unusual for us,” says Björn Ingemanson, president of Volvo Penta. “We want to become the world leader in sustainable power solutions and help our customers to future-proof their businesses by meeting the increased demands for cleaner, quieter and more efficient power solutions. This project demonstrates an important step in this journey.” It’s also a small but important step toward an emissions free transportation sector.

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