How important is electrification to Volvo Trucks?
Volvo’s plans for decarbonising road transport are certainly bold, and electrification sits right at the heart of this strategy. Earlier this year we set out our ambitious goal to have electric trucks account for at least half of our European sales by 2030. We have invested in the development of a full range of electric trucks, with medium-duty trucks in production now and heavy-duty trucks to start production in September 2022. In Europe, we are perfectly positioned to take full advantage of a shift to cleaner transport because 45% of all goods moved by road travel less than 300km, which is within the range that both our medium and heavy-duty electric trucks can achieve today on a single charge.
What has been the reception from dealers and customers to electric trucks?
Our commitment to electromobility has certainly attracted a lot of interest from our dealer network and customers. Across the UK & Ireland, our dealers recognise that Volvo Trucks is leading the market with a full range of electric trucks available to order right now, from the smallest Volvo FL to a 44-tonne Volvo FH. There’s naturally concern from some fleets over the higher cost of electric trucks versus conventional diesel vehicles, but we take a total cost of ownership approach when evaluating the investment in electromobility.
When will customers be able to trial electric trucks for themselves in the UK?
In May, we ran a ride & drive event at Millbrook Proving Ground for around 400 customers and press over two weeks, giving them each the opportunity to test drive a Volvo FE rigid – and the reaction was fantastic. We have now followed this up by adding our own 16-tonne Volvo FL Electric to our national demonstrator fleet. We’ve only had it on the road for a few weeks, but it’s already been on trial with customers as far north as Aberdeen and proved a major hit.
How quickly do you expect to see operators shifting from diesel to electric for regional and multi-drop work?
There’s talk already that the switch to electric vehicles could go faster than many have anticipated, and we are already seeing the upturn in the electric car market. There are many signs indicating this will be reflected in the truck market, not least the recently announced news that DFDS had placed one of the largest ever orders for heavy-duty electric trucks worldwide, with 100 Volvo FM Electrics to begin entering operation during 2022. The first Volvo FL Electric truck has been running in London’s West End with DHL Supply Chain for nearly a year, and it’s been performing seamlessly. We can also support our customers with the development of charging infrastructure at their sites to ensure that everything is considered.
What about long-distance transport – electric won’t be suitable, will it?
If we look a few years ahead, electrifying long-distance heavy transport will be possible too. Our aim is to start selling fuel-cell electric trucks in the second part of this decade, which will make long-distances possible using hydrogen fuel cells to generate the electricity required. Long term, we believe that the vast majority of trucks will be electric, with a place for hydrogen fuel cell trucks for long-range heavy-duty operations.