Sweden-based AB Volvo announced on Jan. 23 that it will start selling electric trucks in Europe in 2019, with the first units entering service with select customers sometime this year – and the company's North American operations say they see a future for electromobility here as well.
The global truck and engine maker noted that "work toward commercialization of electric trucks in North America is ongoing as advancements in battery technology accelerate viability for North American duty cycles and energy demands for a broad range of applications.”
Addressing the news on this side of the Atlantic, Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America, commented in a statement that “electromobility is fully in line with Volvo Trucks’ long-term commitment to sustainable urban development and zero emissions.”
He explained that electrically powered trucks can deliver goods in more sensitive city centers "without disturbing noise and exhaust gases.” According to Nyberg, urban distribution and other P&D applications are “a starting point for battery-powered electric trucks.” He added that Volvo “envisions broader deployment of electric trucks for freight movement in North America as technologies and the market mature," suggesting they may have a future place in Class 8 trucks.
Keith Brandis, Volvo Trucks North America vice president for product planning, pointed out that the global OEM’s technology and its “deep understanding of electromobility are based on proven commercial solutions already used in Volvo’s electric buses, and solutions introduced in Volvo’s hybrid trucks as far back as 2010. Electric vehicles will be part of our future, but the vehicles themselves are only one part of what is needed for large-scale electrification to succeed."
Brandis added that Volvo Trucks is “working closely with customers, cities, suppliers of batteries and charging infrastructure, and other key stakeholders to create the necessary framework for battery-powered electric trucks.”
Word of this electric push comes on the heels of recent news that privately held China-based automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is spending some $3.3 billion to buy an 8.2% stake in AB Volvo. The deal will make Geely the largest holder of AB Volvo’s share capital and voting rights. The Chinese OEM already owns the Volvo Car Group, which was divested from AB Volvo’s other businesses almost 20 years ago.
“Geely Holding will be able to contribute its global knowledge, Chinese market expertise and leading research and development capabilities especially in the fields of electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity, to AB Volvo to further its global development, and strengthen the Volvo brand,” noted Geely CFO Daniel Donghui Li in a statement on the deal.
Speculation posted online holds that Geely is buying into AB Volvo in large part to spur the Swedish OEM to build an electric – and autonomous – truck for the Chinese market before Tesla develops one for there as well as for the North American and European markets.