Volvo Trucks has announced plans to begin commercialising electric trucks in North America starting in 2020. The first electric demonstration trucks will arrive in California next year as part of a private-public partnership project.
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The company set up a cooperation with the Californian South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and other specialists from the transport and charging infrastructure branches. A total of 16 partners are involved in the project.
Under the working title Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) the Swedish company will develop electrified trucks for the US market, based on the Volvo FE Electric, which will hit the market next year.
The California Air Resources Board is providing a 44.8 million dollar fund for the project, which is also part of the state initiative California Climate Investments. The combination shows exactly how extensive the public and private partnership is.
The focus of Volvo LIGHTS is on demonstrating the viability of electric trucks using two already existing truck fleets on California’s southern coast. The fleets will feature eight electric transporters with more than 15 tonnes of carrying capacity and 15 pre-commercial and commercial units. Furthermore, the project will include “non-truck battery-electric equipment, non-proprietary chargers, and solar energy production equipment,” says Volvo. Truck performance will be monitored using several “smart” technologies, “including remote diagnostics, geofencing, and the company’s web-based service management platform.”
“This is an excellent opportunity to show the end-to-end potential of electrification,” says President of Volvo Trucks North America, Peter Voorhoeve. “From solar energy harvesting at our customer locations, to electric vehicle uptime services, to potential second uses for batteries, this project will provide invaluable experience and data for the whole value chain.”
Update 12 December 2018: Volvo has announced further details of above electrification initiative. The first e-truck to become available in North America is an all-electric version of the Volvo VNR. On sale is set for 2020 and by then, the electric truck will be powered by the drive of the FE Electric. The same electric truck that is slated for launch in Europe in 2019.
Update 17 April 2020: As this year the North American deployment of the Volvo trucks was planned, it has now become known who will supply the charging infrastructure. The Swedish commercial vehicle manufacturer has chosen the Swiss-Swedish group ABB. ABB’s charging solutions for the project include the Terra 54HV (50 kW) CCS solution and the HVC 150 Depot Box (150 kW). The charging infrastructure itself will then be operated by Greenlots, another partner in the LIGHTS project.
“This project is unique in terms of its scope, covering the entire system from charging stations and forwarders to solar panels, personnel development and heavy trucks,” says Peter Voorhoeve, President of Volvo Trucks North America. In the USA, more than 70 per cent of all goods used daily are transported by truck – and the leverage is correspondingly large if this transport segment can be electrified.
Update 23 June 2020: Volvo Trucks North America has deployed its first pilot VNR electric truck in Southern California as part of the LIGHTS project. The first pilot Volvo VNR electric truck will operate at the Volvo Trucks North America TEC Equipment dealership in Fontana, California, and will transport local parts between the TEC Equipment dealerships in Fontana and La Mirada.
The Volvo LIGHTS project includes partnerships with Rio Hondo College and San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) who are creating electric vehicle repair and service technician programs to prepare the workforce in the region for the introduction of battery-electric freight trucks. Colleges have already started introducing the curriculum in the classroom and enrolling students for this Autumn.
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