Diesel trucks are great for hauling goods over long distances on open roads, but when it comes to distributing things in urban centers, they leave a lot to be desired, particularly in Europe, where strict noise and pollution laws restrict the times at which diesel trucks can operate. Volvo Trucks, one of the largest manufacturers of heavy commercial vehicles in the world, wants to change all that with a new program called Electromobility.
Electric delivery trucks have a lot going for them when it comes to distribution. They are nearly silent and produce no noxious fumes, so working during off-hours such as in the middle of the night becomes not only possible but desirable.
"By using electrically powered and quieter trucks for goods transport in urban areas, we meet several challenges simultaneously. Without disturbing noise and exhaust gases, it will be possible to operate in more sensitive city centers. Transport may also take place throughout less busy periods, for example in late evening and at night. This will reduce the burden on the roads during daytime rush-hour traffic, allowing both the road network and vehicles to be utilized far more effectively than today," says Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks.
The city of Stockholm, Sweden, in conjunction with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology recently undertook a study of the benefits of transporting goods during off-peak hours in central Stockholm. The results proved to be relatively staggering, with delivery times down by as much as two-thirds.
Volvo Trucks plans to offer electric trucks to several of its customers starting this year as a pilot program before the scheduled widespread European launch in 2019. The speed with which the Electromobility is being rolled out has a lot to do with the fact that most of the technology involved is already in use in other Volvo Truck applications like its electric buses and hybrid trucks.
"We believe in full electrification for urban distribution as a first step. However, we are working with electrification for other transport applications. This is only the beginning," concludes Nilsson.