As part of its 2022 Electromobility Summit, Volvo Trucks North America spent a week inviting clients, partners, and the media to its customer center in Dublin, Virginia to highlight the work it has done to pioneer the electrification of the heavy trucking industry. The Volvo VNR, a Class 8 semi truck with the same appearance and feel as its predecessors to make it easy for drivers to jump in, is the centerpiece of Volvo Trucks’ operations in North America. Under the hood, however, is a powerful completely electric motor and battery system.
At the event, CleanTechnica got behind the wheel of the VNR, spoke with Volvo experts, and discovered the future of the innovative range of heavy-duty trucks from Volvo. With many vehicles in the hands of customers across North America, the Volvo VNR is already in production at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley factory . Education is a crucial step in the process of converting fleets from primarily diesel-powered to entirely electric. Volvo Trucks revamped its sales procedure to incorporate a ton of education and extra services, turning its sales force into a full-fledged electric transformation counseling and financing shop in order to make sure that its customers were prepared for success.
Disclaimer: The author’s lodging and travel expenses to this event were covered by Volvo Trucks.
SERVICES, SALES, AND EDUCATION When you give it some thought, it makes a ton of sense. Almost every aspect of their operation is altered when a large heavy duty class 8 truck’s powertrain is replaced with two electric motors and a battery. Due to the almost complete elimination of scheduled engine tuning, exhaust system maintenance, and brake adjustments, maintenance cycles are dramatically reduced. An electric grid and a brand-new, constantly-expanding network of public EV fast chargers take the place of diesel fuel’s fluctuating price and the truck stops that supply it. Batteries are used in place of fuel tanks. Electric vehicles have higher upfront costs but promise to have cheaper ongoing fuel and maintenance costs than conventional diesel trucks, which have variable fuel costs.
It’s a lot to process, and Volvo knows that for fleet managers converting to a totally electric fleet can be difficult. Volvo has been building and maintaining vehicles for their customers for almost a century. Volvo created a comprehensive sales solution that is significantly oriented toward giving customers the fundamental knowledge required to get up to speed with a fully electric fleet in order to lessen the challenge of the transition.
In addition to making it simpler for customers to use Volvo Trucks as a one-stop shop to electrify their fleets, integrating these processes into the sales consultation represents numerous new vertical profit sources for Volvo Trucks. Customers benefit from Volvo Trucks’ expansion into offering insurance, finance, consultation on charging station locations, charging station recommendations, and other auxiliary services, and Volvo Trucks is able to profit from each step of the process. Win-win situation.
The existing Volvo service networks, which are being modernized and made compatible with Volvo’s new electric vehicles, are stacked on top of these new services. In North America, Volvo now offers 18 service locations that are certified for electric vehicles, and another 55 are in the process of being certified. Volvo stated that the data show that dealers are keen to switch to electric vehicles.
An ESTIMATOR OF CUSTOM RANGE A new range estimator that provides fleet managers with a virtual route simulator for electric trucks is the cornerstone of Volvo Trucks’ new sales process. Fleet managers are aware of the daily mileage of their drivers and the seasonal variations in fuel usage, but how does this information apply to the world of completely electric trucks? With the capacity to change temperature, load, average speed, and other factors, Volvo Trucks created a very detailed route simulator to calculate battery use on actual routes.
The Electric Performance Generator is only one component of a comprehensive strategy to assist customers in converting their fleets to electric vehicles. This will enable potential customers to have a better understanding of how fuel prices will change, when charging should occur, and how the battery’s health will change as they transition to a world of fully electric transportation. It has proven useful in bridging the gap to walk through real-world scenarios utilizing routes that their drivers travel on a regular basis and paint a picture of what that would look like in an electric truck.
When a truck is fully loaded, Volvo Trucks predicts that the VNR will use about 2 kWh per mile. However, this will certainly vary depending on the weather, geography, and the actual load of the vehicle. Fleet managers won’t be caught off guard when the real world begins by using cautious values in the range estimate. Volvo Trucks has conducted many thorough simulations using actual data, and it keeps improving the tool based on user input.
TRACTION WITH IMPORTANT CLIENTS A pilot of 10 to 20 vehicles was used by several of the early users of Volvo’s fully electric trucks. As they aim to extend their totally electric fleets and tap directly into Volvo’s most cutting-edge fully electric products, many of those early customers are now coming in with orders numbering in the hundreds. The second generation VNR trucks’ increased range increased the number of routes that could be served.
The usability of Volvo’s fully electric, large trucks in North America is demonstrated by orders from reputable logistics providers like QCD , Producers Dairy , and Penske , as well as truck-as-a-service upstart WattEV . These orders confirm that many of Volvo’s clients want to join the ride, adding to the company’s extensive track record in the heavy trucking industry.
The VNR has undergone extensive development by Volvo Trucks to guarantee that the driver experience is comparable inside the cabin. Its combustion-fired counterpart’s steering, shifting, air conditioning, and interior cabin design are all remarkably similar. Amazon just dropped an order for 20 of Volvo’s fully electric FH cab-over trucks in Germany, indicating that the trend of replacing fleets of heavy trucks with fully electric ones isn’t limited to North America.
Heavy duty electric trucks are undoubtedly still in their infancy, but that hasn’t stopped Volvo Vehicles from investing heavily in the development of competitive completely electric trucks today. The vehicles we observed, the Volvo Trucks employees we spoke with, and the customer orders provide compelling evidence for Volvo Trucks’ leadership position in bringing about a future with zero accidents and zero emissions.
It’s electric in the future.
Fleet managers may order the zero emission vehicles of the future today because Volvo Trucks is producing them here in the United States.
Like the uniqueness and cleantech news coverage of CleanTechnica? Think about becoming an Patreon patron or a member, supporter, technician, or ambassador for CleanTechnica. Don’t miss a cleantech story, will ya? Subscribe to daily news updates from CleanTechnica by email. Or already in production 0 Want to advertise with CleanTechnica, send us a tip, or propose a speaker for our podcast CleanTech Talk? You can reach us here.