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Heavy-duty

An electric truck Q&A with Volvo Trucks North America’s president

Managing Editor of Fleet Equipment Magazine

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On the heels of Volvo Trucks North America’s recent delivery of the first of five VNR Electric trucks to New York fleet Manhattan Beer Distributors, Volvo Trucks North America President Peter Voorhoeve took some time to answer a few questions from the trucking press on the trucks and Volvo’s overall EV plan. Here is what he had to say.

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Q: What do you see the mix being, if we look 10 years down the road, in terms of electric, diesel, and other types of fuel?

Peter Voorhoeve: We have a pretty strong sustainability agenda strategy. Volvo Trucks believes that we need to make a move in terms of emission reduction. We believe in the Paris Agreement and what they call the Science Based Targets initiative. Our target is to have 35% of our sales electric by 2030. That’s our target. How we get there, I don’t quite frankly know. The line between A and B is never a straight line. So there are many elements that will influence the speed of change.

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Q: When will the tipping point come where electric trucks’ total cost of ownership is competitive with diesel?

Voorhoeve: It’s a little bit difficult to determine right now. There are industry statements that put it somewhere in 2024, 2025 when total cost of ownership will be competitive electric vs. diesel. The important bit is that we should talk about the purchase price of the vehicle.

Energy consumption and energy cost for an electric truck is going to be lower than diesel because we knew electricity output being 100%, and the use of diesel being only 60%. And electricity is cheaper than diesel. It has to do with that battery, which is a very costly component. So with battery technology improving, battery density, energy density increasing, battery costs will go down. How quickly that will go, that’s a little bit difficult to determine.

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But it also has to do with government incentives, and of course how quickly can we accelerate the introduction of electric vehicles? We do need these incentive programs in order to get them going. Recent developments in Washington indicate that there will be intensified efforts of introducing electric vehicles, and it might go faster. I don’t know. It’s somewhere around that point [of 2024 or 2025].

Q: Why is it important to gain an electric foothold in New York City?

Voorhoeve: This is the ideal location to get started, right? So we’re focusing on local distribution, regional distribution in an urbanized area, on urban streets. Which means that you have the advantage of tackling climate change because with no greenhouse gas emissions, you have cleaner air. And then you have a lower noise level, which of course has a big impact on the quality of life as well.

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