The introduction of Volta Trucks’ commercial vehicles into North America will be led in 2023 by a Volta Zero Class 7 truck, which is equivalent to the existing European 16-ton truck, with a dry or refrigerated cargo box.
The Volta Zero is a purpose-built 100% battery-electric, medium-duty truck specifically designed for urban logistics. The ground-up design of the Volta Zero uses a compact e-axle – comprising the electric motor, transmission and axle all in one unit – supplied by Michigan-based Meritor and high-voltage batteries located within the chassis rails from California-based Proterra.
Volta Trucks will initially introduce a pilot fleet of 100 Class 7 trucks in mid-2023 that will be evaluated by U.S. customers, starting in Los Angeles in mid-2023, with additional cities to follow, ahead of a rollout of production vehicles in 2024.
To date, Volta Trucks has built 24 road-going “design verification” prototypes that are currently undergoing a rigorous and extensive testing program in Europe. Ahead of the introduction in North America, the company expects to have already built more than 1,500 full-electric Class 7 trucks for European customers.
As a vehicle specifically designed for urban logistics, the Class 7 Volta Zero will offer a modular battery configuration to deliver a range of 95-125 miles – more than enough for downtown distribution routes. The vehicle is designed to accept both AC and DC 250 kW fast charging, which delivers a full charge from empty in just over an hour. Alternatively, one hour of 19 kW AC standard charging will add around 12 miles of driving range.
While commercial vehicles compose a small portion of city traffic, they have historically been involved in a disproportionate number of accidents with vulnerable road users. Without the traditional internal combustion engine, Volta Trucks, alongside Astheimer Design, reconfigured the entire driving experience to centrally mount the driver’s seat and lowered it in order to meet pedestrians and cyclists at eye level. The Volta Zero’s glasshouse-style cab offers a 220-degree view around the vehicle, for optimum visual awareness and blind-spot reduction.
With the central driving position, drivers enter and exit the vehicle on either side, always onto the sidewalk for their own safety, and through sliding rather than swinging doors, to also ensure the safety of passing cyclists.
The Class 7 Volta Zero introduction will be closely followed by a Class 5 vehicle of 19,500 lbs. and a Class 6 truck of 26,000 lbs., equivalent to the European 7.5- and 12-ton vehicles, in 2024/2025.
Class 5 and 6 Volta Zeros, revealed in April 2022, will bear a close visual relationship to the Class 7 vehicle. All Volta Zeros benefit from the same safety standards of the Class 7 vehicle, as well as its zero-emission powertrain, eliminating not only CO2 emissions but also harmful particulates that cause local air quality and health issues. The Class 5 and 6 trucks will be identical to each other from the front, with the Class 6 vehicle having a longer chassis and body, and second set of rear wheels and tires, to accommodate the increased vehicle payload.
With its European experience, Volta Trucks understands the complexities that fleet operators face with the transition to electrification. In response, the company offers its Truck as a Service proposition – a one-stop-shop that takes all of the elements needed to electrify a truck fleet and brings them into a single offering and monthly payment.
Using the same approach as it has adopted in Europe, Volta Trucks will develop its own Volta Trucks Hubs for vehicle service and maintenance. Hubs will be located close to its customer’s own logistics centers to maximize uptime and convenience. The company will also develop an extensive network of third-party facilities to increase the geographic coverage of service and maintenance outlets.
Work is now under way to kick off initial U.S.-based manufacturing with an experienced partner, with agreements expected later in 2022. The first Class 7 vehicles delivered to the U.S. will be built at the company’s existing contract manufacturing facility in Steyr, Austria, to ensure the quality of the first U.S. vehicles, with all Class 5 and 6 vehicles for North America expected to be built in the U.S., starting in 2024/25.