Volvo Trucks' All-Electric VNR Truck Pilot Program is Showcased in California
Swedish automaker Volvo is a pioneer when it comes to redefining the future of the global automotive industry. The company was among the first mainstream automakers to offer vehicles via subscription services, beginning with its XC40 electric crossover.
However, Volvo is not done with the electric truck segment just yet, as the company's truck division Volvo Trucks recently demonstrated the all-electric VNR Electric models in California. The showcase was held at Volvo Trucks' TEC Equipment dealership in Fontana, California's biggest Volvo truck dealer. The showcase also featured the installation and demonstrations of EV charging stations.
The Volvo VNR Electric trucks are all prototypes and were first teased back in 2018 as part of Volvo's Low-Impact Green Heavy Transportation Solution (Lights). Volvo Trucks' pilot program featured its all-new battery-powered VNR Class-8 heavy-duty trucks, each one demonstrating real-world applications of the technology.
The Volvo LIGHTS project, which is currently being developed in California, is part of a collaboration between 15 public and private partners. The goal was to demonstrate applications of battery-only freight transportation in urban areas with heavy traffic.
The LIGHTS project has been designed to be replicable and scalable in an attempt to cut down on emissions of the freight sector.
Chief collaborators in this program include the California Air Resource Board (CARB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The electric trucks will transport goods to different hubs in the Inland Empire of Southern California from the Port of Long Beach, which is the second-busiest container port in the United States. The Island Empire includes the sprawling metropolitan areas adjacent to Los Angeles. The round trip is about 140 miles.
The Inland Empire offers several incentive programs, as the region is struggling with air quality issues and is aiming to reduce air pollution. The area is also a growing hub for logistics services because of its competitive real estate prices and nearby shipping ports.
So far, Volvo has invested around $400 million to upgrade its 1.6 million square-foot assembly plant in New River Valley, Virginia and another $36.7 million into the pilot program. The Virginia facility is the largest Volvo truck manufacturing facility in the world and is being prepped to manufacture electric trucks.
Volvo will offer its VNR electric trucks in different setups. The lineup will include various configurations with battery sizes ranging from 200 to 300 kWh. The first phase of production is scheduled for late 2020.
Depending on the road conditions and weight of the payload, Volvo claims that the battery pack will offer driving ranges between 75 and 175 miles.
Along with the electric freight carriers, the program is also working to develop electric equipment such as battery-powered forklifts and terminal tractors often referred to as "yard goats", which are used to move trailers around the yards.
Volvo is also working with local colleges to offer training courses for technicians, so that they can get to speed on operations and management of these electric trucks.
To enable the LIGHTS project, as part of California Climate Investments, CARB awarded $44.8 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the regulatory agency responsible for improving air quality for large areas of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The VNR Electric prototype trucks will be monitored over the coming months across multiple parameters to see how they perform.
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