But don’t look for significant numbers of battery-powered earthmovers or dump trucks anytime soon. The plan is to pilot a small number of future electric vehicles with a few selected customers in Europe.
“We see great potential for heavy-duty electric trucks for regional transport and construction in the longer term,” Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm said in a release.
The concept trucks are designed to explore and demonstrate different solutions for the future while evaluating market interest. In other words, Volvo needs an expanded, robust and fossil-free electric infrastructure and financial incentives to go beyond concept vehicles.
Society must be willing to pay for vehicles with a lower environmental and climate footprint, Alm said.
The benefits are significant: lower noise, zero exhaust during increased hours of operation and better air quality in cities with ongoing construction projects.
The use of electric-powered heavy trucks could reduce the overall climate impact from transportation because most freight hauling in European countries is regional.
“In Europe there is an enormous number of trucks that have an average annual mileage of 80,000 kilometers,” said Lars Mårtensson, Volvo Trucks director of Environment and Innovation.
Volvo in 2018 delivered its first regional-haul electric trucks in Europe.
The Volvo Group and Volvo Trucks North America will launch their leadership of the Volvo LIGHTS project in Southern California in early 2020, using electric-powered VNR day cabs for drayage runs to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Rival Daimler Trucks is selling the electric-powered Actros heavy-duty truck in Europe and has amassed more than 20,000 miles of electric driving with demonstration versions of its heavy-duty eCascadia and medium-duty eM2 with two customers in Southern California. Other electric truck makers have plans for battery-powered delivery and regional haul in the new year.
The European goal has challenges, Mårtensson said.
“Many haulage operators have very small margins, so every new investment must be profitable,” Mårtensson said.
That means efficiency improvements in diesel and alternative fuel combustion engines will continue to play a key role for long-haul truck transport for many years to come, he said.