Volvo is the world’s second largest truck manufacturer in terms of volume including subsidiaries. The company has recently launched the GVW Volvo FL Electric, a 16-ton electric vehicle (EV) truck which they will release to the market in 2019.
As part of their thrust, the company has committed to sharing the same battery technology including development and production. This bold move will help lower the company’s EV technology research and development cost, as well as create a streamlined supply chain and production line for the batteries.
The Swedish car and truck manufacturer also includes important brands like UD Trucks of Japan and Mack Trucks of the United States, as well as Renault. Volvo Trucks is not the only manufacturer developing EV technology and batteries for long-distance transports.
Tesla is already accepting pre-orders for its EV truck eponymously named “Semi.” Daimler-Benz released its eActros line of EV trucks to various customers for testing, with series production to start in 2021. Volkswagen Truck & Bus are slated to start production of their EV trucks this year. Volkswagen has a strong presence in trucks and buses and included the Volkswagen, MAN and Scania brands, as well as a strategic relationship with NorthStar.
Trucks: The New Frontier
The major truck brands treat their EV developments as the next step, with investments aimed at replacing their diesel-powered production vehicles with an all EV lineup. They also acknowledge that the R&D costs are expensive.
In an interview, Reuters quoted Lars Stenqvist, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Volvo Group Trucks Technology: “We’re really striving to reuse a lot when it comes to expensive components, which are expensive when it comes to development and production costs.”
Research and development is an investment, and pays for itself of the life of the product. As an investment, the development cost is spread over the volume of production as part of the cost of the item. With more products manufactured for a particular item or part, the R&D costs are defrayed over a bigger volume, and subsequently less cost per product or part.
New Heavy Duty Quon Truck
Volvo-owned UD Trucks will launch an electric heavy-duty truck under the Quon brand in 2020. Volvo Trucks will also launch medium-duty trucks for city deliveries and trash collection. These EVs will have lithium-ion powered batteries.
The Volvo official added that this is “not only between the truck brands but also the bus brands and construction and construction equipment.”
For Volkswagen, one target market for their EV vehicles is the “last mile transportation services” where parcels are delivered to the end user, especially in urban areas. The company sees that there is going to be a boom in deliveries within cities where EV vehicles with relatively short ranges can be used. EV trucks with ranges up to 200 km would be in a competitive position. Long range trucks require ranges above 500 kph.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s Semi will start delivery in 2019. Walmart and UPS, along with other customers have pre-ordered the Tesla Semi. The Semi boasts an impressive acceleration of 0 to 60 miles per hour in 20 seconds, while carrying up to 80,000 lbs of cargo. The Semi’s 300-mile range is priced at $150,000, while the 500-mile range model has a $200,000 price up.