It can be difficult to see an all-electric trucking future in the United States. The distances are vast, the trucking applications are demanding and the early adopter hurdle is high to clear. The first wave of battery electric truck adoption in the U.S. is cresting, with nearly every OEM offering an electric truck option and forward-thinking fleets like Sysco investing heavily in increasingly sustainable trucking equipment. Electric trucks with a range of under 300 miles (approximately) are all across the industry, but the question remains: How does battery electric grow out of its niche?
One answer is to take a step back and look at battery electric from a larger, global perspective. During a press event held in Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo Trucks provided a broad perspective on electric truck technology development and deployment. The Volvo Trucks view is that battery electric trucks will satisfy a large majority of applications in the 27 countries in the European Union (EU). That majority might be the other way around in the U.S., where hopes are high that hydrogen fuel cell technology will provide the zero-emissions platform for long-haul applications, but it’s clear that the global scale of electrification can bring the technology to the market in a way that’s more viable than just looking at it through the U.S market lens. Suddenly, the Volvo Trucks’s goal of a fully zero-emissions product lineup by 2040 comes into a sharper focus.
Not to mention that when you get behind the wheel of an electric truck, it’s awesome. No noise, no vibration; just pure torque and power. There’s no greater example than hauling 44 tons (that’s more than 98,000 lbs.) up a 12% grade, stopping halfway up, then stepping on the accelerator and having the truck haul the load as if the trailers were empty. I spent an afternoon at the Volvo Trucks Experience Center in Sweden putting the OEM’s lineup of electric trucks through their paces. Take a gander at the photo gallery and stay tuned for a video soon to come.