Volvo Trucks is taking a holistic approach to its electric, autonomous and connected-vehicle efforts, looking beyond the truck to create sustainable transportation.
“It is no longer enough for Volvo to solely focus on developing and offering state-of-the-art trucks and services,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.
Volvo wants to leverage its growing relationships with multiple partners to develop end-to-end solutions that will drive lower emissions and greater efficiency with improved road safety, he said Wednesday at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif.
$44.8 MILLION GRANT
Volvo is managing a $44.8 million grant from the California Air Resources Board to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which oversees air quality in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
The Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions, or LIGHTS, project involves 16 partners working to transform freight operations at two trucking fleets, including NFI, a Camden, N.J.-based third-party logistics company with 4,000 trucks.
Volvo LIGHTS is part of California Climate Investments, which funds programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with money from the sale of carbon credits. In addition to the grant, Volvo and its partners are investing $45.9 million in electric trucks, 24 zero-emission forklifts, 58 heavy-duty fast chargers and related equipment.
“This investment by the state, matched by the project partners, will help speed up the number of zero-emission trucks in communities and neighborhoods where they are needed most,” said Mary D. Nichols, CARB chair.
Earlier this year, Volvo Group’s venture capital arm invested in Momentum Dynamics, whose wireless chargers allow any type of vehicle to automatically connect to the electrical power grid without wires or cables. The charger, buried below ground or mounted to a parking surface, connects with a receiver mounted under the vehicle.
“From solar energy harvesting at our customer locations, to electric vehicle uptime services, to potential second uses for batteries, this project will provide invaluable experience and data for the whole value chain,” Voorhoeve said.
Volvo Trucks will introduce five all-electric versions of its VNR model in California later this year, followed by 18 in 2020. Commercialization is planned in North America in 2020. Following testing, the trucks will be retrofitted at the company’s assembly plant in Dublin, Va.
“The Volvo LIGHTS project exhibits the need for an interconnected approach of (truck makers), governments, energy providers, charging infrastructure, fleet owners and others collaborating to further sustainable urban development,” said Keith Brandis, Volvo Trucks vice president of product planning.
Integrating connectivity and autonomous operation with electrification to improve safety and productivity is the right approach, said Sasko Cuklev, director of autonomous solutions for Volvo Trucks. He oversees a program in which six autonomous Volvo FH trucks drive themselves 3.1 miles to transport limestone from a Norwegian mine to a crusher.
“I would like to see them focus on (an electric) powertrain first,” said Antti Lindstrom, an analyst with IHS Markit. “Connectivity and autonomous operation come as a second layer to that.”