5 May 2022 Volta Trucks has revealed the strategic roadmap for its entry into the North American market, having already established itself as the leading European full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer and services provider. The plan will see the first Volta Zero vehicles operating on Los Angeles’ streets by the end of next year.
The full-electric Volta Zero for the US
The introduction of Volta Trucks’ 100% battery-electric commercial vehicles into North America will be led in 2023 by a Volta Zero Class 7 truck which is equivalent to the existing European 16-ton truck, with a dry or refrigerated cargo box. The Volta Zero is a purpose-built 100% battery-electric medium-duty truck specifically for urban logistics. The ground-up design of the Volta Zero uses an innovative compact eAxle, comprising the electric motor, transmission, and axle all in one unit, supplied by Michigan-based Meritor, and high-voltage batteries located within the chassis rails – their safest possible location – from California-based Proterra.
Volta Trucks will initially introduce a Pilot Fleet of 100 Class 7 trucks in mid-2023 in which US customers will evaluate, starting in Los Angeles in mid-2023, with additional cities to follow, ahead of a rollout of production vehicles in 2024. To date, Volta Trucks has built 24 road-going ‘Design Verification’ prototypes which are currently undergoing a rigorous and extensive testing program in Europe. Ahead of the introduction in North America, the company expects to have already built more than 1,500 full-electric Class 7 trucks for European customers.
As a vehicle specifically designed for urban logistics, the Class 7 Volta Zero will offer a modular battery configuration to deliver a range of 95 – 125 miles – more than enough for downtown distribution routes. The vehicle accepts both AC and DC 250 kW fast charging, which delivers a full charge from empty in just over an hour. Alternatively, one hour of 19 kW AC standard charging will add around 12 miles of driving range.
Increasing Safety Measures
While commercial vehicles compose a small portion of city traffic, historically they cause a disproportionate number of accidents with vulnerable road users. Without the traditional internal combustion engine, Volta Trucks, alongside Astheimer Design, reconfigured the entire driving experience to centrally mount the driver’s seat, and lowered it, in order to meet pedestrians and cyclists at eye level. The Volta Zero’s glasshouse-style cab offers a 220-degree view around the vehicle, for optimum visual awareness and blind-spot reduction.
Thanks to Volta Zero’s innovative central driving position, drivers enter and exit the vehicle on either side. That means always onto the sidewalk for their own safety. Also, through sliding rather than swinging doors, to ensure the safety of passing cyclists.
The 33,000 lbs. Class 7 Volta Zero introduction will be closely followed by a Class 5 vehicle of 19,500lbs., and a Class 6 truck of 26,000lbs., equivalent to the European 7.5- and 12-ton vehicles, in 2024/2025.
The manufacturer is releasing Class 5 and 6 Volta Zeros, in April 2022. The two classes will bear a close visual relationship to the Class 7 vehicle. All Volta Zeros benefit from the same world-class safety standards of the Class 7 vehicle. Not to mention, its zero-emission powertrain. It eliminates CO2 emissions and also harmful particulates that cause local air quality and health issues. The Class 5 and 6 trucks are identical to each other from the front. However, the Class 6 vehicle has a longer chassis and body. The second set of rear wheels and tires accommodate the vehicle payload.
Truck as a Service eases commercial vehicle electrification, service and maintenance.
With its European experience, Volta Trucks understands the complexities that fleet operators face with the transition to electrification. In response, the company offers its innovative Truck as a Service proposition. It’s a one-stop shop that takes all of the elements needed to electrify a truck fleet. It brings them into a single offering and monthly payment.
In Europe, Truck as a Service comprises a suite of services. It includes the initial site assessment to fully understand the infrastructure needs of a customer’s depot. Moreover, it considers the installation of the charging setup. It also includes the finance and insurance of the vehicles to accelerate the adoption. Importantly, it also includes all of the vehicle’s servicing and maintenance requirements over the customer’s lifetime of use.
Using the same approach in Europe, Volta Trucks will develop its own ‘Volta Trucks Hubs. The hubs are for vehicle service and maintenance. Hubs will be located close to their customer’s own logistics centers to maximize uptime and convenience. The company will also develop an extensive network of third-party facilities. The goal is to increase the geographic coverage of service and maintenance outlets.
Work is now underway to kick-off initial US-based manufacturing with an experienced partner, with agreements expected later in 2022. The first Class 7 vehicles delivered to the US will be built at the company’s existing contract manufacturing facility in Steyr, Austria. It will ensure the quality of the first US vehicles. Moreover, all Class 5 and 6 vehicles for North America are expected to be built starting in 2024/25.