WASHINGTON, DC — Volvo Trucks’ first North American all-electric truck will be a VNR regional-haul tractor, the company announced Tuesday. The trucks will debut in California as demonstration units next year, operating in distribution, regional-haul and drayage operations. The VNR Electric will go on sale in North America in 2020.
“We are proud to announce the Volvo VNR Electric, designed to support cities focused on sustainable urban development and fleets operating in a range of regional-haul and distribution operations,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA), during a meeting here with North American media members.
“The Volvo VNR Electric leverages the versatility of the new Volvo VNR series with a proven fully-electric powertrain, and represents a strategic stride toward a comprehensive electrified transport ecosystem,” he said. “Cities prioritizing sustainable urban development can leverage electrified transport solutions to help improve air quality and reduce traffic noise. Cleaner, quieter, fully-electric commercial transport also creates opportunities for expanded morning and late-night operations, helping cut traffic congestion during peak hours.”
The Volvo VNR Electric demonstration units will be based on the propulsion and energy storage technology currently being used in the Volvo FE Electric, according to the company, and builds on the Volvo Group’s accumulated expertise in electrified transport solutions. Sister company Volvo Buses has sold more than 4,000 electrified buses since 2010.
“We have decided to electrify the VNR, and there’s a couple of reasons for it,” Voorhoeve told the assembled journalists from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. “First of all, from a technology point of view, we still use Volvo Group technology. And we believe that in the American market the VNR is so well received that it is the electric truck for North America. We will try it out, showcase it in the LIGHTS project, and right after that we will commercialize it.”
Introduction of the Volvo VNR Electric models are part of a partnership, known as LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) between the Volvo Group, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), and industry leaders in transportation and electrical charging infrastructure.
“As incoming new president of VTNA, another reason I’m very excited about that is because this is an electric American truck. The VNR was American-developed, American-produced truck. We do it here in the U.S. It’s perfect marriage of the global group projected in the North American market.
“The LIGHTS project is a truly unique opportunity to showcase a holistic approach to electrification of the freight transport industry as we handle ongoing challenges including electricity generation and battery optimization,” said Voorhoeve. “We appreciate that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the SCAQMD have recognized our leadership and trusted us to oversee this project that will ultimately result in the commercialization of fully-electric heavy-duty trucks. In addition to introducing the VNR Electric, through LIGHTS we will bring a complete sustainable freight solution with end-to-end electrification coordination with our many partners.
"Electric trucks bring many unknowns and our holistic focus through the LIGHTS project will help our fleet partners transition securely and smoothly based on their individual needs regarding driving cycles, load capacity, uptime, range and other parameters,” said Agebrand. “Within the project we’ll look at everything from route analysis and battery optimization to servicing and financing. We always aim to offer high uptime and productivity.”
CARB has preliminarily awarded $44.8 million to SCAQMD for the Volvo LIGHTS project. The Volvo LIGHTS project will involve 16 partners, and will transform freight operations at the facilities of two of the United States’ top trucking fleets. Volvo LIGHTS is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.
“The Volvo VNR is ideal for applications like heavy urban distribution, drayage and other regional applications where electric trucks will first have the greatest impact,” said Johan Agebrand, Volvo Trucks North America director of product marketing. “The VNR series has received tremendous industry acceptance since its April 2017 introduction, and the addition of an all-electric powertrain provides even greater opportunities to expand its footprint in the regional-haul market.”
“Where do we see the electric applications?,” Voorhoeve again stressed. “Short regional haul and inner-city distribution. That’s another thing about electric applications. All of a sudden you can do this in the middle of the night. Nowadays in certain areas, you’re not allowed to drive when people are asleep. With electric trucks, you can drive in the city. With an electric engine, there’s no exhaust, no noise. It’s a very good solution.”