Volvo says that electric trucks will not only be eco-friendly, but will also help fighting traffic jams

Volvo says that electric trucks will not only be eco-friendly, but will also help fighting traffic jams

The future of transportation is in the hands of electric trucks. They will be fast, they will be powerful and they will be efficient. And they will be here next year. Tesla Semi should reach its buyers sometime in 2019. Cummins and Daimler are both preparing electric trucks of different category to enter the market next year and now Volvo is saying it has something in its sleeve too. And it should reduce traffic jams.

How can an electric truck – literally just another vehicle on the street – help fighting congestion in city centres? Volvo Trucks reminds us that many cities now have strict regulation against noise pollution. This means that trucks have to operate during the busiest hours of the day. And that is a problem.

According to Volvo that because electric trucks will be much quieter, they will be able to roam streets at late evenings and at night. This will reduce the number of delivery trucks on the street during rush hours. Electric trucks will also be able to reach areas where conventional diesel trucks are simply not allowed to go due to noise and pollution regulations.

A study, conducted in Stockholm city, revealed that trucks operating off peak traffic hours managed to cut the delivery time by 66 %. These trucks can also be slightly bigger, since they will not have to navigate the daily rush hour traffic. A simple delivery truck can carry ten times as much cargo as the vans commonly used today. This means less trips and more effective utilization of road network.

We still haven’t seen how Volvo’s electric trucks will look like, but the first step will be urban delivery.(Volvo Trucks)

People who live in the city will benefit too from reduction of noise and cleaner air. World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 more than 60 % of world’s population will live in urban areas. In just 12 years from now cities of the world will grow by a billion people. This will cause increase in traffic problems, which are already pretty bad. It is estimated that in EU alone congestion and related traffic problems cost about a 100 billion euros per year.

Therefore, Volvo is going to start selling urban distribution trucks in Europe next year. However, initial testing with selected reference customers is already going to start this year.

Jonas Odermalm, Head of product strategy medium duty vehicles at Volvo Trucks, said: “Our technology and knowhow within electromobility are based on proven commercial solutions already in use on Volvo’s electric buses, and solutions that were introduced in Volvo’s hybrid trucks as far back as 2010. The vehicles themselves are only one part of what is needed for large-scale electrification to succeed. Enabling long term sustainable transport is a complex issue that requires a holistic and wide range of measures”. Issues regarding infrastructure are going to be discussed with cities and customers, in order to prepare the network for sustainable electric truck operations.

Also read:

Electric trucks from a 100 years ago;

Gas-powered trucks are already available and in theory can be CO2 neutral;

Scammel Scarab – it is not your ordinary semi-truck – it is the mechanical horse;

General Motors Bison – a vision of trucks of the future from 1964. Why didn’t it stick?

Electric trucks are far from new – they were delivering goods a hundrend years ago

Electric trucks are far from new – they were delivering goods a hundrend years ago

Daimler, Tesla, Cummins and many other companies are all preparing electric trucks. Some of them will hit the market already next year and, as experts predict, the truck industry will be changed forever. However, none of these companies invented a battery-powered truck – they were already delivering milk and baked goods more than a hundred years ago.

Nothing new under the Sun. We now consider electric trucks to be the transportation of the future, but in reality the world has already seen electric trucks in the past. For example, Walker Electric Truck company in US in 1907-1942 was manufacturing extremely popular electric trucks. They were regarded as extremely reliable and strong, although quite slow.

Modern electric trucks will be at least as quick as diesel-powered ones. But Walker trucks were not that fast at all. They were powered by a 3.5 HP motor, drawing energy from 66-80 volt batteries, delivering a maximum of 40 amps. You don’t have to know anything about engineering to know that this is not a lot of power for a truck.

Companies had big fleets of Walker trucks – they were extremely reliable and so much better than horses. (Narve Skarpmoen, Wikimedia)

Walker trucks obviously could not reach a very high top speed – they maxed out at around 16-19 km/h. However, no one really complained about that sort of speed back in 1910’s, especially since the truck had solid steel wheels with solid rubber tyres.

Walker did not make semi-trucks – all of them were conventional wagons. The cargo compartment was customized for the client’s needs. It was not an aerodynamic masterpiece either – it was pretty much a wooden box on wheels and batteries between the axles. By the way, batteries provided 80 km of range, which was pretty much enough for daily operations of the period. They were charged every night.

This truck was running with its original batteries from 1914 till 1960. (Erector, Wikimedia)

You may laugh at these specifications, but at the time they were pretty good. Don’t forget that these trucks were replacing horses and carriages. They were quicker, easier to maintain and could carry more load. Walker exported some of these electric trucks to Great Britain, Norway and New Zealand. In fact, it is said that electrical company Orion New Zealand Limited is using one example till this day, although that is just a symbolic act.

Walker truck charging in Norway – they could go for about 80 km before needing an overnight charge. (Narve Skarpmoen, Wikimedia)

Rail companies, US post office, delivery, diary companies as well as bakeries and other small businesses just loved Walker electric trucks. It is said that the famous Marshall Field & Company chain had 276 Walker trucks in 1925. However, eventually it all came to an end.

Internal combustion trucks were not as easy to live with, since they needed extensive maintenance, but they were easier to operate, quicker and could go much further on a full tank. Walker trucks lived longer than the company itself and even now remain in running condition in museums and private collections.

Also read about some other cool historic trucks:

Scammel Scarab – it is not your ordinary semi-truck – it is the mechanical horse;

Goliath GD 750 – three-wheeler truck with a tiny engine was more useful than it looks;

General Motors Bison – a vision of trucks of the future from 1964. Why didn’t it stick?

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