By on April 13, 2018

While North America awaits Tesla Motors’ electrified big rig, the rest of the globe’s manufacturers are working on battery driven commercial vehicles of their own. These vehicles may not be able to match the Tesla’s size or ability to do burnouts, but their existence shows companies are taking electrification seriously.

FedEx, which has already reserved a handful of the Tesla trucks, bragged it would soon deploy Navistar-sourced electric trucks way back in 2010. However, with the exception of ultra-dense urban environments and shipping hubs, these units haven’t see a lot of action. For the most part, the addition of zero-emission vehicles seem like a good way for companies to virtue signal and test the feasibility of such a platform in a commercial setting. For example, UPS issued a press release in February saying it wanted to develop 50 battery electric vans that might someday replace its fleet of 35,000 gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.

Still, there’s momentum building behind alternative energy vehicles in the commercial sector. Daimler-owned Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation started the slow rollout of its eCanter courier truck last September. It probably won’t break any sales records for the brand, but it does show manufacturers’ desire to not just develop, but sell these things at a meaningful volume — and it’s soon to be followed by Volvo Trucks’ brand new FL Electric.

Appearing as a direct competitor for the eCanter, Volvo’s FL Electric offers roughly the same recipe in an somewhat larger package. Considering both vehicles are intended primarily for hauling modestly sized loads in and around densely populated cities, we doubt the little Fuso will suffer too egregiously.

Trimmed out in its biggest and most powerful form, the electrified Fuso has a chassis load capacity of 4.9 tons. The estimated maximum range of the 70 kWh eCanter exceeds 62 miles under idyllic circumstances, but a full load will surely drag that down somewhat. Maximum output clocks in at 248 horsepower and 280 ft-lb of torque. However, Fuso says it intends to upgrade the model in terms of size, range, and power very soon.

Meanwhile, the all new FL Electric from Volvo Trucks promises a 100-300 kWh battery pack  capable of a maximum range of roughly 186 miles. In its biggest and baddest form, the FL pumps out 248 horsepower and 313 ft-lb. Gross vehicle weight is 17.6 tons vs the eCanter’s 8.2 tons. Unlike the Fuso’s single cog, the Volvo uses a two-speed transmission.

By and large, these specs don’t give them a huge advantage over their closest diesel-powered relatives. In fact, most of Fuso’s internal combustion box trucks can best the electrified version in terms of torque and payload by a sizable margin. But given the infancy of battery technology and potential fuel savings a battery equipped commercial vehicle can offer, it would be crazy for any truck manufacturer to outright ignore electrification.

[Images: Volvo Trucks; Daimler Trucks]

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22 Comments on “Volvo Introduces First Fully Electric Truck, Joins Fuso in Mainstream BEV Push...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “For the most part, the addition of zero-emission vehicles seem like a good way for companies to virtue signal…”

    Why does TTAC always say this? It serves no purpose for a trucking firm to virtue signal, because nobody cares.

    It’s all about the money – how much the TCO is for a truck, and how to be competitive in a low-margin environment.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      “Why does TTAC always say this?”

      Because in ttacland, no effort to mitigate harm is sincere. It’s solely about appearances. It dovetails perfectly with their “there is no harm, it’s juat libtards who want to ruin the fun” blinders.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      ” It serves no purpose for a trucking firm to virtue signal, because nobody cares.”

      FedEx, UPS and DHL would love to tout their green cred to customers, and given a few more years of urban pollution concerns, many companies that move to EVs could even kick the legs out from under competitors if cities ban ICE delivery vehicles.

      I would love to see most delivery vehicles switched to electrons. If getting to greenwash a bit helps make that happen, so be it.

      • 0 avatar
        Dutcowski

        +1

        These companies have a huge carbon print – so they’ve got to be seen doing something…

        Courier e-vans should be easily workable in major urban centers. They don’t travel far and return to depot for convenient overnight charging.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      SCE of AUX,
      TTAC is a right leaning magazine.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        So am I. But it defies logic to suggest that companies will spend millions of dollars just to score contracts with tree huggers.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          These companies already dump millions into advertising/promotional/PR, also written-off, but these trucks would perform work too. What’s a better win/win?

          • 0 avatar
            tekdemon

            UPS and FedEx barely advertise to consumers and frankly consumer shipping is a minuscule portion of their business. The vast majority of their business is from huge corporate customers like Amazon who need to ship billions of packages. Walmart and Amazon don’t really care what gets the packages there, they use whatever is cheapest, timeliest and leads to the least damage/theft. Corporate customers don’t really care about how you’re getting the package there, the bottom line matters far more.

            That package you send by FedEx once a year doesn’t even begin to register compared to the dozens they probably shipped for Amazon to you.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Are you sure? How much do you think it costs them to turn all their leased planes, trucks and trailers into billboards?

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          When, I state right leaning, I mean, further right than I lean. I’m right of centre and can see some benefits in what the “left” put forward sometimes.

          Some of the statements from the TTAC is further right than patriotic. Some of the comments are inane right, ie, the views on free trade, which slides almost into the domain of the left.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      We say it is a good way to virtue signal because it is a good way to virtue signal. No company wants to be accused of looking backward and all manufacturers expend extra effort to publicize their EVs or green tech. It’s also a good way make money as the market changes and eventually reduce carbon footprints.

      The truth, as it turns out, is multifaceted. And, when we say something, it doesn’t automatically negate everything else.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    This is the sort of application where BEVs can make an enormous amount of sense.

    Everyday primary vehicles, not so much. No amount of snide namecalling and vigorous misdirection will ever change the reality that BEVs will require a dedicated parking space and extended down time for the forseeable future. There’s no room-temperature superconductor technology is in the offing, or even hinted right now. (And that’s still only the delivery half of the equation.)

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Steve65,
      I don’t envisage heavy transport to become electric for a while. Inner city delivery, yes, will be viable first, but only for inner city delivery vehicles that travel less than 100 miles a day.

      In Australia our interstate and cross country transport is moved on multi trailer trucks alot. Outside of each major urban area trucks breakdown (decouple) trailer to be moved in more managable units to move around the suburban and city areas to deliver.

      I do see cross country and interstate trucks in the US capable of becoming EVs if the vehicle is supplied power like an electric train and not from battery storage.

      This would create far less pollution as you will not need battery production, or the batter they have is only used to gain access onto and off of the “grid”.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Tesla is great at the gimmicky glitz about it’s future. It seems when the going gets tough and people expect results, Tesla fails.

    Burn out trucks might appeal to the youth in use, but a truck is needed as a tool, not a toy.

    This is a poorly run business caught up in it’s own self lubricating promotion full of what if’s, with nothing but lots of talks and BS.

    Tesla will end up selling to the Chinese or Indians for a tuppence.

  • avatar
    grinchsmate

    Stop start driving, depot based, parked overnight, short range, often size rather than weight limited. All perfect conditions for battery power.

    City trucks are absolutely where electric is best suited and it really makes me wonder why Tesla decided to start with semis.

    I read an article on hybrid rubbish trucks the other day. They were saying that with the full power, stop, full power driving they are subjected to a thousand times a day the electric ones were saving huge amounts in maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      grinchsmate,
      Look at any industrial application with the use of electric motors. When you need a similar amount of power and with the use of an internal combustion engine (generally diesel) there is a huge difference in operational overheads.

      I know in the early 80s I knew some farmers who ran a 200hp hammer mill (huge mill, about 8′ in diameter) using a diesel, they eventually got the money to have electric power moved to the site and they were saving a gazillion dollars a year, not just in fuel, but maintenance, with much more reliability.

      I think the application type will be used to first determine EV trucks and government (taxpayer funded) services will be the first to adopt. Buses and Garbage trucks are almost similar to inner city delivery vehicles.

      Like I stated above, I don’t envisage EV trucks of any value interstate/long haul unless they can draw power similar to an electic locomotive, then when the move off the grid they can use a much smaller batter pack to get them to their final destination. This would be a lot cheaper to have with far less pollution than a complete battery operated truck, with a huge weight saving with less batteries.

  • avatar
    namstrap

    How long have they been using electric “milk floats” in England? A very long time, I believe.

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