Last week, Volvo Trucks announced that its full range of heavy duty trucks and haulers would be available with battery-electric drive trains as early as next year. The move is seen as a massive step towards eliminating fossil-fuel use throughout Europe, and a realization of Volvo’s commitment to be a fully “climate-neutral” company by 2040.
Volvo Trucks is currently running real-world tests of battery-electric Volvo FH, Volvo FM, and Volvo FMX model heavy duty trucks and semis, as well as the more familiar (to US eyes, anyway) Mack-branded versions of these trucks. And, keep in mind, these are big trucks. Some have a gross combination vehicle weight rating of over 40 “tonnes” (!?), and would feature a driving range of nearly 200 miles between charges.
Granted, that’s not going to be enough, initially, to displace over-the-road diesels that often travel 800-1000 miles in a single day, but for shorter distance runs that require more torquey grunt than anything else? Think of a semi hauling construction equipment from a depot to a job site 40 or 50 miles away. An electric Volvo Truck is going to be the way to go — and having more and more of these big EVs available is just going to make that fact more obvious.
“By rapidly increasing the number of heavy-duty electric trucks, we want to help our customers and transport buyers to achieve their ambitious sustainability goals,” explains Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks Global. “We’re determined to continue driving our industry towards a sustainable future.”
This news comes hot on the heels of Volvo Trucks’ announcement that it is buying 50% of Daimler Trucks’ hydrogen fuel cell business, and seems to indicate that the company is well beyond the exploratory phases of transitioning towards zero-emission vehicles. Instead, they seem to be “all in,” as they say in Las Vegas. Or, as I say, at least, right before I go back to my room and sob for the next thirteen hours.
Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t have a SEMA show this year?
“To reduce the impact of transport on the climate, we need to make a swift transition from fossil fuels to alternatives such as electricity. But the conditions for making this shift, and consequently the pace of the transition, vary dramatically across different hauliers and markets, depending on many variables such as financial incentives, access to charging infrastructure and type of transport operations,” explains Alm. He thinks that these variables, along with financial barriers and varying age/wear of vehicles across vehicles in a given fleet, mean that the transition from fossils to electrons will take place gradually. To help ease the minds of forward-looking fleet managers faced with making those switches, he’s emphasized that Volvo’s trucks are driveline agnostic, which basically means that if your company has already developed a special loading arm for its diesel Volvo fleet, it should be a direct bolt-on to your new electric Volvo.
“Our chassis are designed to be independent of the driveline used. Our customers can choose to buy several Volvo trucks of the same model, with the only difference being that some are electric and others are powered by gas or diesel,” offers Alm. “Our primary task is to ease the transition to electrified vehicles. We’re doing this by offering holistic solutions that include route planning, correctly specified vehicles, charging equipment, financing and services. The long-term security that we and our global network of dealers and service workshops provide our customers with will be more important than ever.”
Sounds good to me. What do you guys think? Is this split BEV/hydrogen fuel cell approach the right way forward for these big companies like Volvo and Navistar, or would you rather see more of a commitment to one approach over another, like Tesla and Nikola have? Let us know in the comments.
Source | Images: Volvo Trucks.