SWEDEN – FRANCE – US – WORLDWIDE – Almost the Holy Grail for the global road haulage industry of today is the fully electric commercial heavy goods vehicle. The search for such a truck continues with the puzzle of sufficient power and minimal battery weight set against available range and time between, and taken for, charging periods.
One company which has taken a clever route to popularising its brand of all electric HGVs is Swedish outfit Volta. The firm produces a 16 tonne model, the Zero, which, in addition to having all the bells and whistles one would expect on a modern lorry designed from the ground up, carries the possibility of monthly payments which include all servicing, insurance and training requirements.
In addition the company’s Truck as a Service (TaaS) scheme also undertakes to provide a substitute vehicle whenever needed, thus avoiding any downtime. So why the need for training? This seems to be principally due to the central driving position making the vehicle immune to different driving cultures. The driver’s position is very low and the panoramic glass panels enable unrivalled visibility. This means it ticks all the mandatory visibility requirements which are blossoming in cities.
Sustainability has gone into every facet of the design with a body made from flax composite panels, these use 75% less CO2 in production and can be more easily recycled at the end of life. The vehicle has been designed primarily as a last mile, urban delivery truck and at just shy of 9.5 metres with a width of 2.55 and a height of 3.45 this means a maximum capacity of 37.7 m3, a payload of 8.6 tonnes, and the ability to carry 16 europallets at a time.
The key of course to having a successful electric vehicle of any type is range, and the Volta specifications claim 90 to 125 miles with a maximum speed of 56 mph. The battery size is 160-200kWh and the company just signed a deal with Proterra, a collaboration which represents the US-based company’s entry into the European truck market.
Proterra says its battery technology has been proven over 17 million miles driven by its own transit vehicles and has also been chosen by other world-class commercial vehicle manufacturers to electrify delivery vans, school buses, coaches, low-floor shuttles, and construction equipment. The makers say the batteries supplied feature passive and active safety features and liquid thermal conditioning.
They incorporate functional safety standards, including ISO 26262 (up to ASIL C) and are designed to deliver over 4,000 recharge cycles over 10 years, without significant degradation, to ensure the longevity of the vehicle and ensure that 125 mile range, more than enough for the usual urban cycle.
The first demonstrator was produced in the UK by Prodrive in Banbury and terms are still to be settled with whom full production will continue. Interest is unsurprisingly high, with French last mile specialist Swoopin currently having a model at its Paris HQ for four weeks to be viewed by other potential customers. Confirming the French debut, Chief Executive Officer of Volta Trucks, Rob Fowler, said:
“With the imminent changes in legislation in French cities, it’s clear that the adoption of electric commercial vehicles needs to accelerate very quickly. Currently there is a real shortage of electrified products on offer to fleet operators, but with the Volta Zero, we can show our important French customers that we have a compelling solution that meets their needs.
”When our founders created Volta Trucks, they didn’t want to just offer a zero-emission vehicle, but to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles as a whole, especially in city centres where air quality is at its worst. In bringing the Volta Zero to France, we also hope to stimulate a wider awareness of full electric vehicles in the commercial sector and thus, help improve the air quality and environment for all French city inhabitants.”
Photo: The Volta Zero in Swoopin livery currently on trial in France.