Volvo’s trucks division announced the expansion of its truck fleet, this week. Starting from 2019, Volvo Trucks will be selling medium-duty electric trucks in Europe. The first units will be distributed to selected few reference customers already in 2018. According to Volvo Trucks President, Claes Nilsson, “electromobility is fully in line with Volvo Truck’s long term commitment for sustainable urban development and zero emissions”.
Urbanisation, congestion and traffic related problems
Volvo’s introduction of electric trucks rests on assumptions about the increasing traffic and logistics demand in urban areas. The company follows estimates of the World Health Organization and the UN, which calculate that 60% of the world’s population, amounting to 5 billion people, will live in cities by 2030. The higher population density will lead to more congestion and traffic related problems, costing the EU €100 billion annually.
Thus, Volvo has identified an opportunity to create vehicles that will tackle the emerging problems of urbanisation. Volvo’s trucks will drastically reduce noise and exhaust emissions, while opening up new ways of managing logistics. Electric trucks will enable more transparent assignments to be carried out at nights, with fewer trucks competing for road space during rush-hour.
Holistic approach and a wide set of measures
Volvo’s Head of Product Strategy for Medium Duty Vehicles, Jonas Odermalm, believes that their “technology and knowhow within electromobility are based on proven commercial solutions already in use on Volvo’s electric buses, and solutions that were introduced in Volvo’s hybrid trucks as far back as 2010. The vehicles themselves are only one part of what is needed for large-scale electrification to succeed”.
Moreover, long term sustainable transportation is complex and depends on a holistic approach with a wide range of measures. For example, Volvo Trucks is already working “closely with customers, cities, suppliers of charging infrastructure and other key stakeholders to create the necessary framework for electrical trucks”.
We believe in full electrification for urban distribution as a first step. However we are working with electrification for other transport applications. This is only the beginning.
Nascent electric trucks market
In addition to Volvo, there have already been other first movers in the electric trucks market. As recently as last November, Tesla unveiled its electric semi and teased plans for a pick-up. Daimler has already started selling all-electric trucks and VW is investing $1.7 billion to start selling electric trucks in Europe. Even though at the early stages, the electric trucks market provides lucrative opportunities for automotive companies globally, while supporting the evolution to sustainable urban mobility.