European electric truck manufacturer Volta Trucks has revealed the roadmap for its entry into the North American market, and plans to operate its Class 7 Volta Zero electric truck in California in 2023.
Volta Trucks will initially introduce a pilot fleet of 100 Class 7 trucks in mid-2023 that will be evaluated by U.S. customers, starting in Los Angeles, ahead of a roll out of production vehicles in 2024.
“With more than 6,000 vehicle pre-orders in hand, from some of Europe’s largest fleet operators, it is time to expand our geographic horizons and look towards the significant market opportunity in North America,” Volta Trucks Founder Carl-Magnus Norden said. “I believe our full-electric truck will be perfectly suited to the US customer’s needs, and we look forward to engaging customers to gain feedback on our product and services, then testing and learning as we look to exceed their expectations.”
To date, Volta Trucks has built 24 prototypes which are currently undergoing a “rigorous and extensive” testing program in Europe. Ahead of the introduction in North America, the company expects to have already built more than 1,500 full-electric Class 7 trucks for European customers.
The introduction of Volta Trucks’ battery-electric commercial vehicles into North America will be led in 2023 by a Volta Zero Class 7 truck which is equivalent to the existing European 16-ton truck, with a dry or refrigerated cargo box. The Volta Zero is a medium-duty truck specifically designed for urban logistics. The truck features a compact eAxle, comprising the electric motor, transmission, and axle all in one unit, supplied by Meritor, and high-voltage batteries located within the chassis rails from Proterra.
As a vehicle specifically designed for urban logistics, the Class 7 Volta Zero will offer a modular battery configuration to deliver a range of 95 to125 miles. The vehicle is designed to accept both AC and DC 250 kW fast charging, which delivers a full charge from empty in just over an hour. Alternatively, one hour of 19 kW AC standard charging will add around 12 miles of driving range.
Volta Trucks, alongside Astheimer Design, reconfigured the entire driving experience to centrally mount the driver’s seat, and lowered it, in order to meet pedestrians and cyclists at eye level. The Volta Zero’s glasshouse-style cab offers a 220-degree view around the vehicle, for optimum visual awareness and blind-spot reduction.
Thanks to the Volta Zero’s central driving position, drivers enter and exit the vehicle on either side, always onto the sidewalk for their own safety, and through sliding rather than swinging doors, to also ensure the safety of passing cyclists, Volta officials said.
The 33,000 lbs. Class 7 Volta Zero introduction will be closely followed by a Class 5 vehicle of 19,500lbs., and a Class 6 truck of 26,000lbs., equivalent to the European 7.5- and 12-ton vehicles, in 2024/2025.
Class 5 and 6 Volta Zeros, revealed in April 2022, will bear a close visual relationship to the Class 7 vehicle.
All Volta Zeros benefit from the same safety standards of the Class 7 vehicle, as well as its zero-emission powertrain, eliminating not only carbon dioxide emissions but also harmful particulates. The Class 5 and 6 trucks will be identical to each other from the front, with the Class 6 vehicle having a longer chassis and body, and second set of rear wheels and tires, to accommodate the increased vehicle payload.
The company will offer its Truck-as-a-Service proposition, described as a a one-stop-shop that takes all of the elements needed to electrify a truck fleet, and brings them into a single offering and monthly payment.
In Europe, Truck-as-a-Service comprises a suite of services including the initial site assessment to fully understand the infrastructure needs of a customer’s depot, through to the installation of the charging set-up. It also includes the finance and insurance of the vehicles to accelerate the adoption. It also includes all of the vehicle’s servicing and maintenance requirements over the customer’s lifetime of use.
Using the same approach as it has adopted in Europe, Volta Trucks will develop its own ‘Volta Trucks Hubs’ for vehicle service and maintenance. Hubs will be located close to its customer’s own logistics centers to maximize uptime and convenience. The company will also develop a network of third-party facilities to increase the geographic coverage of service and maintenance outlets.
Work is now underway to kick-off initial U.S.-based manufacturing with an experienced partner, with agreements expected later in 2022. The first Class 7 vehicles delivered to the U.S. will be built at the company’s existing contract manufacturing facility in Steyr, Austria, to ensure the quality of the first US vehicles, officials said.
All Class 5 and 6 vehicles for North America expected to be built in the U.S., starting in 2024/2025.