Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and Volkswagen AG’s TRATON Group plan to spend $593 million to install and operate 1,700 charging stations for commercial trucks in Europe by 2027.
Building up charging infrastructure for heavy-duty, long-haul battery-electric trucks and coaches is the intent of the nonbinding agreement announced Monday by Europe’s three largest truck manufacturers.
“It is the joint aim of Europe’s truck manufacturers to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. However, it is vital that building up the right infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with putting CO2-neutral trucks on the road,” Daimler Truck CEO Martin Daum said in a press release.
“It will be the big bottleneck,” Daum told Reuters. The Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer expects to separate from Daimler AG, which is also the parent of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, by the end of the year.
No similar pact exists in the U.S. Daimler Trucks North America in April opened an Electric Island for truck charging near its Portland, Oregon, headquarters. So far, it is the only corporate-driven public charging system.
DTNA, Volvo Trucks North America and PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) brands Peterbilt and Kenworth sell charging stations for private use. TRATON’s Navistar brand does not yet have an electric offering. The first, a medium-duty model, goes into production in 2022.
JV signing expected by end of 2021
The European agreement anticipates formation of a joint venture by the end of the year in which each of the three companies would have an equal stake. The plan is for high-performance green energy charging points close to highways, as well as at logistics and destination points, within five years.
The future JV is planned to operate under its own corporate identity and be based in Amsterdam. It will be a catalyst and enabler for realizing the European Union’s Green Deal for a carbon-neutral freight transportation by 2050. The charging network will be accessible to all commercial vehicles in Europe, regardless of brand. Outsiders are expected to expand the network once it is established.
“In order to accelerate further, we need additional partners, additional networks and public funds,” Lundstedt said.
Volvo was the first to produce electric trucks in Europe and is expanding to battery-powered construction equipment. After three years of testing, Daimler began producing its eActros heavy-duty truck last Wednesday. It is initially being sold in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Follows Daimler-Volvo fuel cell electric truck JV
In a separate move, Daimler and Volvo earlier this year finalized a joint venture to make and sell hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks and stationary power units under each brand. Volvo paid Daimler almost $700 million for 50% of the joint venture called Cellcentric.
“We are laying the necessary foundation in making a breakthrough for our customers to make the transformation to electrification,” said Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group president and CEO.
Volkswagen, which committed to spend billions on electric infrastructure globally following the Dieselgate scandal — the secret disabling of pollution control devices of diesel vehicles — is all-in on electrification.
“This requires the rapid development of publicly accessible charging points, especially for long-distance heavy-duty transport,” said Matthias Gründler, TRATON Group CEO, adding that roughly $12 billion would be needed to build out Europe’s electric infrastructure by 2050.
Europe needs up to 15,000 high-performance public and destination charging points no later than 2025, and up to 50,000 high-performance charging points no later than 2030, according to a May 2021 report by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.