The six-wheel chassis Volvo FE Electric, with a gross weight of 27 tonnes (59,525 lb), can be supplied with four to six battery packs, delivering 200-300 km (124-186 mi) of potential range. (image: Dan Gilkes)

Volvo Trucks accelerates electric truck debuts

Volvo Trucks recently unveiled two full electric trucks, in separate ceremonies in Gothenburg, Sweden and in Hamburg, Germany, within three weeks’ time. The company launched the two-axle 16-tonne (35,275-lb) Volvo FL Electric in April, powered by a single 185-kW electric motor offering a continuous output of 130 kW and 425 N·m (313 lb·ft) of torque. This drives through a two-speed transmission to the rear axle.

The truck can be equipped with two to six lithium-ion battery packs, offering a driving range of up to 300 km (186 mi). Charging takes 10 hours using a 22-kW AC connection, while fast charging through a DC connection can be carried out in just 1-2 hours, using a CCS/Combo2 connector with up to 150-kW output.

The second truck to be unveiled, in early May, is the Volvo FE Electric. This six-wheel chassis, with a gross weight of 27 tonnes (59,525 lb), uses two electric motors offering 370 kW or a continuous output of 260 kW. Maximum torque is 850 N·m (627 lb·ft) and the motors run through Volvo’s two-speed transmission to the rear drive axle.

The FE can be supplied with four to six battery packs, depending on range and payload requirements. This delivers 200-300 km (124-186 mi) of potential range. As with the FL, the FE comes with both AC and DC charging capabilities, permitting overnight recharging using a 22-kW supply or a 1.5-hour recharge with a 150-kW DC supply.

The first FE Electric truck has been supplied to Stadtreinigung Hamburg, the city’s largest waste service provider. It has been built with a Faun refuse collection body, for domestic waste collection within the city. Faun has converted its Rotopress body and bin emptying system to run exclusively on electric power, rather than a conventional hydraulic drive. This is said to be more efficient than using the batteries to power a hydraulic pump, reducing parasitic losses; however, during operation it is expected that the body and bin loading system will consume up to one-third of the available electric power from the batteries.

The Hamburg truck has been supplied with four battery packs, to give a potential range of 200 km, though it is not expected to cover more than 80-100 km (50-62 mi) per shift. This combination allows a similar payload to the conventional diesel truck, with additional battery packs weighing around 500 kg (1,100 lb) each.

There are no purchase prices available yet, as both the FE and FL Electric models will not be for sale until later in 2019. However, Volvo claims that the refuse vehicle in Hamburg will save up to €15,000 ($17,900) per year in diesel costs.

“Today, each of our 300 conventional refuse vehicles emits approximately 31,300 kg of carbon dioxide every year,” said Rüdiger Siechau, CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg. “An electrically powered refuse truck, with a battery that stands a full shift of 8-10 hours is a breakthrough in technology. Another benefit is the fact that Stadtreinigung Hamburg generates climate-neutral electricity from waste, that can be used to charge the batteries.”

Of the two Volvo FL Electric trucks working in trials in Sweden, one is also being used in a refuse operation, with recycling company Renova, while the second is working for haulage firm TGM. When the trucks go on sale in 2019, the FE will also be available in a range of specifications, to suit refuse, temperature-controlled and regular distribution tasks.

“Our solutions for electrified transport are designed to suit the specific needs of each customer and each city. In addition to the vehicles, we will offer everything from route analysis to services and financing via our network of dealers and workshops throughout Europe. We also have close partnerships with suppliers of charging infrastructure,” said Jonas Odermalm, product line vice president for the FL and FE at Volvo Trucks.

As Volvo Trucks also owns the Renault Truck business in Europe, it is expected that the French truck builder will launch an electric driveline in its two- and three-axle rigid trucks later in the year. Volvo’s U.S. brand Mack Trucks has also announced plans to have a full electric Mack LR refuse model operating in North America in 2019, working for the New York Department of Sanitation.

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