Volvo Introduces First Fully Electric Truck, Joins Fuso in Mainstream BEV Push

volvo introduces first fully electric truck joins fuso in mainstream bev push

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]

Join the conversation
3 of 22 comments
  • Grinchsmate Grinchsmate on Apr 13, 2018

    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.

    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 14, 2018

      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.

  • Namstrap Namstrap on Apr 14, 2018

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

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.