If you’ve been following developments with Prius and Tesla, then you know electric cars are increasing in ability and popularity. What you might not know is electric trucks are in the mix too. In May 2018, Volvo released two new models of electric trucks – the Volvo FE and the Volvo FL. Volvo plans to launch wide-scale European sales in 2019, after testing them out in Sweden and Norway this year.
The two electric truck models were released within three weeks of each other, and while they utilise similar truck parts, their specs are slightly different. The FE has a range of 200km while the FL has a 300km range. As for charging, they can both fast-charge on DC in an hour or two, while a full AC charge requires 10 hours and would probably take place after dark. The gross weight of the FL is 16 tonnes while the FE weighs in at 27 tonnes.
For now, the trucks are intended for urban use as garbage trucks and similar functions. They release minimal emissions and are far quieter than diesel or petrol trucks but have the same driving power. To facilitate their interest in electric cars, Volvo recently promoted Edward Jonson from Chief Engineer at Volvo Buses to Vice President of Electromobility.
Applying academics to the field
Aside from his extensive on-the-job experience, Jonson took his MA Science at Chalmers and his Zurich PhD at ETH. He has a well-established reputation for electromobility and sustainable transport. Why does it matter so much? Well, diesel trucks make a lot of noise, because of the size of their engines, their ignition systems, and their exhaust. Fuel passing through the engine – and the process of combustions itself – are all rather loud.
In comparison, electric cars are noiseless. So by replacing fossil-fuel trucks with electric ones, cities get a lot quieter. Parts for electric trucks wear out a lot more slowly, and the cost of electric charging is vastly cheaper than buying petrol, so trucks become more economical to run, shoring up profit margins. Also, with no burning fuel to release carbon dioxide and other emissions into the air, there’s less pollution, fresher air, and no acid rain.
However, perhaps the biggest consequence of electrification will be the impact on Volvo truck parts. Both genuine truck parts and aftermarket truck parts will be affected by dramatic changes to the entire drive train. Suppliers of high quality truck spares will need to revisit their supply chain and their business model to take advantage of new opportunities, such as intervention and the prevention of breakdown maintenance using a telematics platform for remote truck diagnostics.
Benefits of low noise
A less recognised factor in trucking restrictions is noise. They’re often mandated to drive within set hours to avoid noise in residential areas. With quieter electric trucks, the sound isn’t an issue, so truckers and fleet managers can adjust their schedules to benefit from off-peak hours. However, this would have to be done in tandem with schedule managers to make sure it doesn’t exacerbate the problem of overworking and overtiring drivers.
Finally, electromobility makes drivers’ lives better. Their gel batteries offer a more luxurious experience with less noise, fresher air, fewer vibrations, better air conditioning, and more access to music and electronic devices, all without impacting with your truck’s ignition ability. Electric trucks also have built-in driving aids like lane maintenance, skid avoidance, customised resistance adjustment, and much more.