In the early hours of Wednesday at the IAA 2018, President of Volvo Trucks, Claes Nilsson got on stage to elucidate the demand of Volvo Trucks in the European market and its foray into electromobility systems. “The number of trucks in the German market has actually increased by 40% over the last five years, and we have a total of over 400,000 Volvo trucks in the European market. I can assure you that we are making heavy investments in our service network to meet this need,” he said.
Incidentally, the company is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Volvo FH model this year, with it showcasing a Volvo FH 25th year special edition in commemoration. Nilsson highlighted the growing importance of trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the market, as it remains to be the best alternative to diesel today. The gas-powered Volvo FH series emits 20% lesser CO2 than a regular Volvo FH, which leads to significantly lower carbon footprints, but also provides the same performance and operating range as the latter.
“With rapid advancements in electromobility, automation, and connectivity, the boundaries of what can be achieved are shifting continuously. This year, we have launched our first all-electric trucks, the Volvo FE and FL Electric, and we will start to sell them in Europe next year,” said Nilsson.
The Volvo FL and FE Electric vehicles are designed to take up to 27 tonnes, and can drive nearly 125 miles on a single charge. The FE Electric has two motors that come with a maximum power of 370 kW, with a Volvo two-speed transmission. The energy storage is through lithium-ion batteries, which can hold 200-300 kWh. The technology is shared with Volvo’s line of electric buses, where more than 4,000 units have been sold to date. Volvo Trucks offers driver training, route analysis, maintenance, and financing for its customers, helping them integrate with the smart transport solution.
The company believes that these electric variants would pave the way for more sustainable freight movement within urban boundaries. For example, municipal work like waste removal could be carried out in the night, as electric trucks are silent and also are devoid of carbon emissions.
“Electromobility is in line with our long-term commitment to sustainable urban development and zero emissions,” said Nilsson. “It opens the door to new forms of cooperation with cities having a target to improve air quality, reduce traffic noise, and cut congestion during peak hours since commercial operations can instead be carried out quietly and without tail-pipe exhaust emissions early in the morning or late at night.”
Mikael Karlsson, the VP Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks chipped in, explaining the company’s new innovation Vera – an autonomous electric truck. “This is our solution for fully autonomous, electric, and connected transport that will complement our current transport solutions. It will make transport safer, cleaner, and more efficient. Vera is intended for repetitive goods transport with relatively high goods volumes over short distances,” he said.
Karlsson hoped that Vera could help tackle the declining truck driver population, as a cluster of Vera trucks could effectively run operations within logistics hubs – a small step towards complete freight movement automation.
“Over the next coming years, we will see a rapid increase of electrifying commercial vehicles, primarily in cities were full electric trucks can not only improve air and noise quality, but also increase transport efficiency. A lot of deliveries can be shifted to off-peak hours, and this will help local daytime traffic to get better and will reduce a lot of accidents,” said Jonas Odermalm, VP Product Line at Volvo Trucks. “With superb driveability and significantly reduced noise, vibrations, and exhaust gases, they will make truck driving an even more attractive and enjoyable experience.”