Volvo launches new city truck with electric drive only
The new Volvo FM Low Entry comes with a gross vehicle weight of 19 to 32 tonnes. The model is nicknamed “Low Entry” because of its lowered cab, which is positioned slightly forwards. The low entry and flat floor are designed to facilitate frequent entry and exit. However, the paradigm shift is hidden beneath the surface: the Volvo FM Low Entry will only be available electrically. The heavy-duty electric trucks from Volvo Trucks are otherwise all based on available combustion engine models – and are also manufactured in line with them.
The FM Low Entry is specially designed for urban transport tasks, “for example in waste management, distribution transport and construction”, according to the manufacturer. The new model will initially be offered in Europe, including Turkey, as well as in Australia and South Korea. According to Volvo Trucks, sales will begin in the current quarter, with the production debut planned for the second quarter of 2024.
The truck is based on the well-known FM model from Volvo. While the latter can carry up to 44 tonnes, the permissible gross weight of the low-entry is specified as 19 to 32 tonnes. There are similarities in the axle configuration, among other things: both are available as two-, three- and four-axle models, the low-entry specifically as 4X2, 6X2, 6X4, 8X2 or 8X4. The wheelbase is specified at 3,900 to 6,000 mm. For the larger FM Electric, it is 3,800 to 6,700 mm.
The drive in the low-entry model consists of a 330 kW electric motor and a 360 kWh battery. Volvo Trucks specifies a range of up to 200 kilometres. By comparison, the FM Electric offers 490 kW of power and a battery of up to 560 kWh for a range of up to 300 kilometres. However, the battery base is the same in both models: the low-entry has four battery packs of 90 kWh each, while the larger FM Electric has up to six packs of 90 kWh each. The charging power is correspondingly identical: the smaller low-entry also charges with up to 250 kW DC and 43 kW AC.
Volvo Trucks combines the positive electric properties in the urban environment with a lowered cab, which is intended to ensure a low driving position, easier entry and exit and good all-round visibility in urban traffic. The manufacturer offers seating options for one, two or four people in the cab. In the latter case, the three passenger seats are located at the rear of the cab so that they are not in the driver’s field of vision.
“This zero-emission truck is a great addition to our electric range, perfectly suited for city transports and designed with the driver in mind,” says Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks. “It’s powerful, yet smooth to drive and easy to maneuver. The new Volvo FM Low Entry is perfectly in line with our ambitions to expand our electric offer, enabling even more customers to reduce their carbon emissions.”
The new model will join the existing electric series trucks in the course of the year: the Swedish manufacturer’s portfolio currently includes the three heavy-duty models FH Electric, FM Electric and FMX Electric – available to order since May 2022 – as well as the three medium-duty electric truck models Volvo FE, Volvo FL and VNR (for North America). These are produced in four plants. The fourth and larger production facility, in Ghent, Belgium, was only added in September.
The company is positioning the FH Electric in the regional and national transport sector, the FM Electric as a versatile truck for local heavy haulage and regional distribution transport and the FMX Electric as a vehicle for cleaner and quieter construction transport. The electric heavy-duty trio is now available not only as a tractor unit, but also as a chassis version or with attachments such as cranes, waste compactors and concrete mixers.
Volvo Trucks is also launching a new variant of the FH series, the FH Aero, with improved aerodynamics and new technological details. This is not a new model, but an aerodynamic kit that can be ordered for all drive versions of the FH. In conjunction with the electric version of the FH series, there is talk of the Volvo FH Electric Aero. Volvo Trucks has already received an initial order for two such units – from the Salzburg-based company Vega.
It is in the nature of things that the aero version of the Volvo trucks should reduce energy consumption and increase the range. The Swedes do not provide specific kilometre figures, but do state that the Volvo FH Aero should reduce energy consumption by up to five per cent.
The main features of the aerodynamic kit are a cab front that has been moved forward by 24 centimetres and a camera system instead of the conventional exterior mirrors. New brakes with drag-free brake discs are also used. On the software side, a special assistant (“I-See technology”) is intended to contribute to an optimised driving style. This is based on a cloud-based topographical map.
The Aero variants for the various Volvo FH drive systems are to be successively launched on the market in 2024 and 2025. “The new Volvo FH Aero is our most efficient truck ever as we continue to reduce CO2 from our entire product range,” commented Roger Alm. “This is a Volvo truck at its best – a safe, beautifully designed and superior quality truck for tough long-haul tasks, designed for the success of our customers.”
In 2019, Volvo Trucks became the first manufacturer in the world to start series production of heavy-duty electric trucks and aims for around 50% of new Volvo trucks sold worldwide to have an electric drive by 2030. The manufacturer is part of the Volvo Group, which also includes Renault Trucks.