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Volvo gets first double-digit order for Class 8 electric trucks

Quality Custom Distribution will use VNR Electric on last-mile delivery routes

Volvo Trucks North America received its first double-digit order of VNR Electric Trucks. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) will lease 14 VNR Electric daycabs to a Southern California food distributor. It is Volvo’s first double-digit order of zero-emission battery-electric tractors.

The truck leases and charging infrastructure will cost Quality Custom Distribution (QCD) about the same as diesel-powered trucks because of a $3.9 million grant to Volvo Financial Services from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Inland Port Program.

The port program consists of California’s largest transportation and clean air agencies and stakeholders. A total of $37.2 million in funding is available to assist fleet owners in the state’s Inland Empire to transition to zero- or near-zero-emission transportation to improve air quality.

“We’ll probably see incentives until at least the middle of the decade,” Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for Guidehouse Insights, told FreightWaves. “The electric truck market is definitely not as mature as the car market. We’re expecting it to gain significantly in the coming years “

Outgrowth of Volvo LIGHTS

QCD will use the trucks built in Volvo’s New River Valley Assembly Plant in Virginia for last-mile delivery routes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California. The trucks will be based out of Fontana, where Volvo dealer TEC Equipment services electric trucks involved in the Volvo LIGHTS demonstration program. Deliveries begin this fall.

Volvo LIGHTS — which stands for Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions — is a collaboration of public and private stakeholders involved in all aspects of battery-electric vehicles with a goal of seeing widespread adoption.

QCD recently took delivery of its first Volvo VNR Electric through the LIGHTS program. QCD’s parent company, Golden State Foods, operates a fleet of 700 Class 8 tractors. About half of them are Volvo VNL and VNR models.

“With this exceptional commitment to deploy an additional 14 Volvo VNR Electric trucks, we are pleased that QCD has chosen to continue its longtime partnership with our organization to achieve its sustainable freight transportation goals,” Peter Voorhoeve, VTNA president, said in a press release.

Early commercialization

VTNA is among the first major truck manufacturers in the U.S. to commercialize and sell battery-electric Class 8 trucks. 

It began taking customer orders in December. Multiple deliveries are scheduled throughout 2021, with more than 100 VNR Electric models planned for fleet deliveries throughout California over the next two years. Seventy of those trucks are funded through an additional $21.7 million in grants that included money from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) last week opened its order books for Freightliner Class 8 eCascadia and Class 6 eM2 battery-electric trucks for delivery in 2022. DTNA has 30 electric trucks in operation through dedicated fleet tests with NFI Industries and Penske Truck Leasing. An additional eight electric trucks are part of a Customer Experience Fleet.

PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) brands Kenworth and Peterbilt are taking orders for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks. Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) is planning a medium-duty battery-electric truck in 2022. Mack Trucks, a Volvo Group sister brand of VTNA,  is testing two battery-electric refuse haulers.

Paying for infrastructure

Infrastructure provider Greenlots, a participant in Volvo LIGHTS, will design and install eight high-power charging stations at QCD’s Fontana distribution center to power the electric trucks. 

“The challenge, especially for fleets, is not so much buying the trucks as it is putting in place the infrastructure they need for charging and support and making sure they have what they need to keep the trucks running.” Abuelsamid said.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.