Volvo’s Electric Trucks Drive into the SpotLIGHTS
Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solution (LIGHTS) project brings Volvo’s electric truck vision to life
“Partnership is the new leadership,” Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of Volvo Group declared February 11, just prior to Volvo parading out five battery electric VNRs as part of its LIGHTS (Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solution) project.
The company credited a deep roster of 14 partners, including the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for making the project a success.
Volvo LIGHTS was launched in 2018 and the first electric trucks were produced on schedule. They’ll be delivered to several fleets operating in California and serviced by TEC Equipment, which has installed two charging stations. About 250 people were invited to the launch, and Canadian fleets including Purolator, Bison Transport, Loblaw, Challenger, Canadian Tire and Verspeeten Cartage were represented.
LIGHTS represents a US$37-million investment from Volvo, which will put another $2 billion into North American research and development per year going forward. Lundstedt said that represents the company’s largest ever investment in North America.
“We believe in this continent, we believe a lot of things will happen,” he said. “We are also proud we are building 100% of our trucks here in the U.S.”
Volvo initially considered importing its European FE and FL electric cabover trucks to North America, but instead opted to electrify its recently released VNR regional haul truck. By the end of this year, limited production will begin for a straight truck as well as tractors in 4×2, 6×2 with liftable axle, and 6×4 configurations rated at a 66,000-lb gross combination weight (GCW). The electric driveline has been imported from Europe, as part of Volvo’s CAST (Common Architecture and Shared Technologies) strategy.
The heart of the driveline is a two-speed transmission, with dual electric motors to provide propulsion energy. Batteries are packaged on both sides of the chassis for easy access. The truck still has a radiator to provide battery heating and cooling. The engine compartment has been filled with the modular power box. A charging port on the driver’s side is easily accessible.
Brett Pope, director of electro-mobility for Volvo Trucks North America, touted the virtues of the VNR Electric. It has no tailpipe, and produces no emissions. During its operating life, it will produce 40-60% less CO2 than a diesel-fuelled truck. It’s also much quieter, which Pope said “will help in urban areas with growing population densities.”