SA will finally get the new Mercedes Actros range — which was first revealed way back in 2012 — in 2018. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
SA will finally get the new Mercedes Actros range — which was first revealed way back in 2012 — in 2018. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

While many are looking at Tesla’s electric truck plans, the rest of the industry is busy actually getting electric trucks to market.

One of these is Volvo Trucks, which has revealed its first all-electric truck for commercial use — the Volvo FL Electric — for urban distribution and refuse operations, among other applications. Sales and series production of the new model will start in Europe in 2019 — but don’t expect it in SA soon.

"We’re proud to present the first in a range of fully electrically-powered Volvo trucks ready for regular traffic. With this model we are making it possible for cities that aim for sustainable urban development to benefit from the advantages of electrified truck transports," says Volvo Trucks president Claes Nilsson.

Advantages

There are many advantages to an electric truck, particularly when it comes to zero exhaust emissions —allowing them to be used in indoor terminals and the kind of environmental zones that many European cities are implementing. Low noise levels also create opportunities for doing more work at night, thus reducing the burden on the roads during the day.

There is considerable market interest in electric trucks, says Volvo, but also many questions as to how the technology will suit particular operations.

"To make the transition secure and smooth, we will offer holistic solutions based on each customer’s individual needs regarding driving cycles, load capacity, uptime, range and other parameters. Such a solution may encompass everything from route analysis and battery optimisation, to servicing and financing. Volvo Trucks works closely with several suppliers of charging equipment. The aim as always is to offer customers high uptime and productivity," says Jonas Odermalm, head of product strategy Volvo FL and Volvo FE at the company.

Electrification is nothing new to the company, it’s sister company Volvo Buses has sold more than 4,000 electrified buses since 2010.

"From experience we know how important it is that cities, energy suppliers and vehicle manufacturers co-operate for large-scale electrification to become a reality. With attractive incentives, agreed standards and a long-term strategy for urban planning and expansion of the charging infrastructure, the process can go much faster," explains Odermalm.

The company says it is essential to take a holistic view of electrification of the transport sector to handle the ongoing challenges in areas such as electricity generation and batteries.

"For instance, to ensure that raw materials for the batteries are extracted in a responsible way, the Volvo Group works with the Drive Sustainably network, which has a special function that monitors this issue. The Volvo Group is also involved in various projects where batteries from heavy electric vehicles get a second lease of life, reused for energy storage. All the questions about handling of batteries have not yet been solved, but we are working actively both within the Group and together with other actors to drive development and create the necessary solutions," says Odermalm.

Range claim

The first trucks in the Volvo FL Electric range are now entering regular operation, with customers in Gothenburg, Sweden, and feature a 185kW electric motor providing maximum continuous output of 130kW and torque of 425Nm. claim a range of up to 300km depending on the load for the vehicle which features a GVW of 16 tonnes. What is also important for any logistics operator, particularly one in the urban environment is charging, and is claiming a fast charge to full time of one to two hours or an overnight regular AC charge of 10 hours.

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