Volta Trucks looks to expand to the U.S.
By Chad Elmore12 May 2022
Company plans to appoint a U.S.-based manufacturing partner later this year
Volta Trucks has revealed its roadmap for entry into the North American market, having already established itself as a European full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer and services provider. The company said its plan is to have the first Volta Zero vehicles operating on the streets of Los Angeles by the end of 2023.
The introduction of Volta Trucks’ 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 designed for urban logistics. The 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 from California-based Proterra.
Volta Trucks said it will introduce a pilot fleet of 100 Class 7 trucks in mid-2023 that will be evaluated by U.S. customers, starting in Los Angeles in mid-2023, with additional cities to follow, ahead of a roll out of production vehicles in 2024.
To date, Volta Trucks said it has built 24 road-going design verification prototypes which are currently undergoing testing in Europe. Ahead of the introduction in North America, the company expects to have built more than 1500 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 to 125 miles, which the company has said is more than enough for downtown distribution routes. The vehicle is designed to accept 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.
While commercial vehicles compose a small portion of city traffic, they have historically been involved in a disproportionate number of accidents with vulnerable road users, said the company. Without the traditional internal combustion engine, Volta Trucks, alongside Astheimer Design, said it reconfigured the 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.
Thanks to the Volta Zero’s central driving position, drivers enter and exit the vehicle on either side, always onto the sidewalk for their safety, and through sliding rather than swinging doors, to also ensure the safety of passing cyclists.
The 33,000 lb. Class 7 Volta Zero introduction is expected to be followed by a Class 5 vehicle of 19,500 lb., and a Class 6 truck of 26,000 lb., equivalent to the European 7.5- and 12-ton vehicles, in 2024-2025.
Class 5 and 6 Volta Zeros, revealed in April 2022, bear a close visual relationship to the Class 7 vehicle. All Volta Zeros have the same safety standards of the Class 7 vehicle, as well as its zero-emission powertrain. The Class 5 and 6 trucks will be identical to each other from the front, with the Class 6 vehicle having a longer chassis and body, and a second set of rear wheels and tires, to accommodate the increased vehicle payload.
Truck as a Service
With its European experience, Volta Trucks said it understands the complexities that fleet operators face with the transition to electrification. In response, the company offers its innovative Truck as a Service proposition – a one-stop-shop that takes all of the elements needed to electrify a truck fleet, and brings them into a single offering and monthly payment.
In Europe, Truck as a Service comprises a suite of services including the initial site assessment to fully understand the infrastructure needs of a customer’s depot, through to the installation of the charging set-up. It also includes the finance and insurance of the vehicles to accelerate the adoption, and derisk the ownership, for the customer. Importantly, it also includes all of the vehicle’s servicing and maintenance requirements over the customer’s lifetime of use.
Using the same approach as it has adopted in Europe, Volta Trucks plans to develop its own “Volta Trucks Hubs” for vehicle service and maintenance. Hubs will be located close to its customer’s own logistics centers to maximize uptime and convenience. The company said it will develop an extensive network of third-party facilities to increase the geographic coverage of service and maintenance outlets.
Work is now underway to start U.S.-based manufacturing with an experienced partner, with agreements expected later in 2022. The first Class 7 vehicles delivered to the U.S. will be built at the company’s existing contract manufacturing facility in Steyr, Austria, with all Class 5 and 6 vehicles for North America expected to be built in the U.S., starting in 2024-25.
Volta Trucks’ head office is in Stockholm, Sweden, with its engineering led from the UK, and a forthcoming manufacturing facility in Austria. The company also has sales teams across France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.