Give Tesla all the credit in the world for getting the EV revolution started, but the rest of the automotive universe isn’t waiting around for Tesla. News of the Tesla Cybertruck ignited a frenzy of interest in electric pickup trucks when it was announced. That level of interest resonated in corporate boardrooms all across America as first Ford, then GM, and finally Dodge announced that, yes indeed, they would offer electric pickup trucks, too!
Tesla also announced some time ago that it would offer an electric semi — the tractor that hauls semi-trailers back and forth across the continent and everywhere in between. Then yesterday, Elon Musk announced the Semi is delayed until 2023 at the earliest.
But once again, Tesla lit the fuse on the electric semi transition and others have begun piling into the space created by Elon and his Musketeers. Volvo Trucks (which is not the same as Volvo Cars) has been hard at work developing electric semis and has just received an order for 100 of them from DFDS, northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics company with annual revenues of €19 billion.
The deal is the largest commercial order to date for Volvo electric trucks and one of the largest ever for heavy duty electric trucks. The first Volvo FM Electric was delivered to DFDS in August. Delivery of the remaining trucks will begin in about a year from now and continue though 2023. The trucks will be used on both short- and long-haul routes in the DFDS logistics system in Europe.
“This is a major milestone in our commitment to fossil-free transportation and I am very proud of the partnership we have with DFDS. Together we are showing the world that electrified heavy truck transport is a viable solution already today. I believe this will encourage many more customers to confidently take the first step in their own electrification journey,” says Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks.
“At DFDS, we’re determined to play our part in reducing CO2 emissions and creating a sustainable supply chain. We know how important electrification is in the journey to reach our CO2 targets, and I hope we can inspire others as we move forward in this vital transition,” adds Niklas Andersson, executive vice president at DFDS.
The FM Electric can carry a weight of 44 tons gross and has a range of up to 300 kilometers. The vehicles can be charged overnight at a depot using an onboard AC charger or via a high power DC charger on route.
The electrification trend in the heavy truck market is accelerating. In Europe, a few hundred trucks above 16 tons have been registered so far this year. Of these, approximately 40% are Volvo electric trucks.
“Our clear aim is to drive the electric truck transformation and our market-leading position shows that we are definitely on the right track. Our target for 2030 is that half of our global truck deliveries will be electric. We are pleased to see that growing interest among our customers is starting to be reflected in firm orders, not least by this impressive order from DFDS,” Roger Alm says.
On its website, Volvo Trucks says that the cost of batteries is falling rapidly, while technical improvements are boosting energy density. The total cost of ownership — a metric near and dear to the heart of any fleet manager — is lower for electric trucks than it is for conventional trucks. But there’s more to the story.
The company says,
“As the price of electric vehicles goes down, choosing electric could become more than a question of sustainability and cost. Electric trucks are also proving popular with drivers because they generate fewer vibrations than traditional diesel vehicles. They are easier to maneuver and park, making them well-suited to urban driving and deliveries.
“As a low-carbon option with no tailpipe emissions, electric trucks are proving popular with companies that want to operate more sustainably. The switch to electric vehicles could go faster than many have anticipated. At least, there are many signs indicating this development.”
Electric trucks from Volvo are already in use in and around ports in southern California and are part of DHL’s fleet of cargo vehicles as well. When it gets here, there’s no doubt the Tesla Semi will be a stunner. But it will face competition from other electric truck makers by then. The good news for EV advocates is that every electric truck on road replaces one pollution-spewing diesel truck. That’s good news for us all.
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