More than probably any other company in this sector, Volta Trucks has adopted the spirit and some of the design of the Tesla Semi. It has the driver seated in the middle of the cabin in its newly revealed Volta Zero. It has two fairly large vertical touchscreens flanking the steering wheel, and one more in a horizontal position behind the steering wheel. The steering wheel itself is even a bit reminiscent of a Tesla steering wheel.
Oh, there’s one more thing it has in common with the Tesla Semi — we have to wait for it.
Volta Trucks says that it’s “the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle,” but the first pilot trucks are due for sometime in the first half of 2021, and real production and deliveries are scheduled to start in 2022.
“The Volta Zero will start undertaking operator trials with some of Europe’s largest parcel delivery and logistics companies in H1-2021. Orders have already been taken from companies wanting to secure the first customer-specification vehicles, which are due to be delivered when production starts in 2022.”
The Volta Zero is not meant for long-haul or even medium-haul duty, though. It is tailored for package deliveries within the city. As such, it will have a pure-electric range of 150–200 kilometers (95–125 miles). That comes from a 160–200 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack.
“Commercial vehicles form the lifeblood of commerce and livelihoods in cities, but today’s large trucks dangerously impose themselves on our streets and dominate their surroundings,” Rob Fowler, CEO of Volta Trucks, says. “With the launch of the Volta Zero, we are changing the face of road transport. Volta Trucks is redefining the perception of the large commercial vehicle, and how it operates in and integrates with, the zero-emission towns and cities of the future. This is made possible by the three pillars that define both Volta Trucks as a business and the Volta Zero – safety, sustainability, and electrification. Add to that our unique Truck as a Service proposition that reimagines a fleet manager’s business model. At Volta Trucks, we are directly contributing to society’s migration towards an electrified future.”
Here are more specs on the truck:
- Payload = 8,600 kg
- Gross Vehicle Weight = 16,000 kg
- Overall volume = 37.7m3
- Designed to accommodate 16 Euro pallets
- Max speed of 90 km/h (56 mph)
- 9,460mm in length, 3,470mm high, 2,550mm wide, wheelbase of 4,800mm.
“A refrigerated cargo box will also be available, without reducing overall volume as a result of the vehicle design. Volta Trucks is integrating the use of the vehicle’s battery for the cooling and refrigeration unit of the cargo box that’s normally diesel-powered, thus further reducing CO 2 or particulate emissions from commercial vehicle operations.”
Visibility in the Volta Zero looks great. It is supposed to be 220 degrees of visibility, and Volta aims to get a “Transport for London five-star Direct Vision Standard rating.”
In fact, Volta Trucks says that the Zero was “Designed from a blank sheet of paper to be the safest commercial vehicle.” That means safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, not just drivers. “Safety is at the heart of the Volta brand for one simple reason. In London, as an example, 23% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist deaths involve an HGV, yet large trucks only account for 4% of road miles. This is clearly unacceptable and must change.” One interesting part of that, aside from all the tech, is the truck driver sits much lower than in a normal truck in that class, closer to the eyeline of bikers and pedestrians.
Overall, the Volta team tried to use the flexibility of an electric powertrain to improve in the areas of safety and comfort.
“By removing the traditional internal combustion engine that has always sat high in the front of a truck, we had a clean sheet of paper to design the commercial vehicle suitable for the 21st century, rethinking the layout and design the truck and its cab,” said Carsten Astheimer, Managing Director of Astheimer Design and lead-designer of the Volta Zero.
“We had three main priorities for the design of the cab. We wanted it to be best in class for safety, ease and efficiency of ingress and egress, and the best driver environment of any truck on the market. With the Volta Zero, I can comfortably say that we have achieved that goal.”
Naturally, being an electric truck, it has a simplified powertrain (many fewer moving parts that can get broken) and low operational (electricity) costs.
But how deep does the greenery actually go in this concept electric truck?
Deep. “The world’s first use of flax and biodegradable resin composite in exterior body panels, developed by Bcomp in conjunction with the European Space Agency, that is almost entirely carbon neutral.”
Volta Trucks is really a new beast in the electric vehicle industry. Aside from the introduction of the Zero in July, our only other mention of the company is that it’s one of the companies behind World EV Day, which is tomorrow! Other partners include ABB, Green.TV, Mahindra Electric Mobility, and Pivot Power.