Volvo Delivers Its 1st Electric Heavy-Duty Truck In Africa

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In some ways, it’s going to be a little easier to electrify transportation in developing countries. While the top selling car in history is the Toyota Corolla, its sales are dwarfed by the Honda Super Cub and its variants, and motorcycle sales are dwarfed by those of bicycles like the Chinese Flying Pigeon.

Motorcycles and scooters have become increasingly popular in developing nations due to their low cost, fuel efficiency, and ease of use. They require less maintenance than cars, are easier to maneuver through city streets, and can save money on fuel costs. Furthermore, in many countries where infrastructure is limited or nonexistent, two-wheeled vehicles provide a reliable form of transportation for those living in rural areas who may not have access to cars. In other cases, motorcycles and scooters are the only option for those living in urban areas due to congestion and limited road space. This combination of convenience and cost factors has made them a common solution for many people in developing countries around the world.

These small vehicles are easier to electrify, because they take less energy to move. Small battery packs can even be removed for charging, or swapped by hand at battery swap stations.

But, the relative ease and low cost of converting smaller vehicles in developing countries doesn’t mean that these countries don’t still need some big vehicles. Transporting goods, providing important services, and taking refuse away are all things that even the most bicycle-oriented country will still need trucks for. So, some recent news from Volvo Trucks is especially important news.

Volvo Trucks has delivered its first heavy-duty electric truck to Morocco, marking a major milestone in the development of electric vehicles in Africa. The truck was delivered to Arma, the Moroccan refuse collection company, and is the first battery-electric truck from a global manufacturer to be put into commercial operation on the continent. This delivery is an important step for Volvo Trucks as it looks to expand its electric vehicle offering into new markets. Volvo Trucks also says it plans to continue delivering heavy battery-electric trucks worldwide to support cities and businesses in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution associated with transportation.

“This is a proud moment when we take the first step to more sustainable, electric transport in Morocco and Africa together with our customer Arma and the city of Rabat.” said Martin Nilsson, Managing Director, Volvo Trucks Morocco. “This clearly shows that zero-emissions trucks have a role to play in many parts of the world. Volvo is the first global brand with heavy electric trucks in commercial operation in Africa. We have the broadest electric truck line up in the industry, which makes it possible to electrify a large part of heavy transports already today.”

The Volvo FE electric truck has been put into series production and is being used for collecting waste in Rabat, Morocco, by the refuse collection company Arma. This zero-exhaust/emission truck has the potential to not only reduce air pollution, but also save large amounts of CO2. A typical route using this electric truck could save up to 30 tons of CO2 every year compared with a diesel counterpart.

“We are proud to be the first company in the waste management sector in Morocco and in Africa to have chosen to invest in sustainable mobility in cooperation with Volvo Trucks. By taking a step towards the electrification of our truck fleet, Arma is reducing its carbon footprint, showing one more time our commitment to the environment. Our intentions are clear: we will continue investing in innovations that help reduce emissions and benefit the environment while supporting our customers in meeting their own sustainability goals,” says Youssef Ahizoune, CEO of Arma Group.

The Volvo FE electric truck is one of six all-electric Volvo Truck models already in serial production. As part of its commitment to reducing emissions, Volvo Trucks has the broadest lineup of electric trucks available for commercial transports. According to the company, it aims to have 50% of all new trucks electric by 2030.

Morocco has set ambitious climate goals, investing heavily in renewable energy sources like solar power. In fact, Morocco is home to the world’s biggest concentrated solar power facility, Noor Quarzazate, located 200 km southeast of Marrakech. This major investment in clean energy demonstrates Morocco’s commitment to combating climate change and reducing emissions. The introduction of Volvo Trucks’ electric vehicle supports this effort by providing a reliable means for transportation that does not pollute the environment.

Electric Trucks Might Seem Like A Formidable Challenge To Developing Countries, But They Probably Aren’t

When it comes to individuals buying cars, an expensive electric car can be a tough sell in developing countries, but when it comes to commercial vehicles and government entities, longer-term thinking and the immense fuel costs of medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles creates a very different set of decisions to make.

While a household might prefer a two-wheeled EV or a microcar, companies and governments doing things like hauling trash can’t do this with a scooter or bike. They face the same costs as trucking in developing countries, and stand to save over time just the same.

This is particularly true for urban operations and other low-speed stop-and-go driving. The low speeds, low drag, and frequent stopping lends itself very well to electrification while that’s basically the worst scenario for ICE (internal combustion engine) efficiency. So, we shouldn’t be surprised at all when developing countries start to adopt medium- and heavy-duty trucks more than we might think in the coming years.

One challenge that we’ll have to follow is the issue of battery supply. For low-speed, shorter routes, a truck’s battery might not have to be very big, so this may not be as much of an issue. But, when we’re looking at higher-speed applications and trucking along highways, we might see developing countries struggle to adopt trucks like the Tesla Semi until battery production can catch up with developing demand.

Featured image provided by Volvo Trucks.

Note: We’ve reached out to Volvo Trucks for additional info and will update this article if we receive a response.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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