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Volvo gets first double-digit order for Class 8 electric trucks

Volvo gets first double-digit order for Class 8 electric trucks-FREIGHTWAVES

Volvo gets first double-digit order for Class 8 electric trucks​

Quality Custom Distribution will use VNR Electric on last-mile delivery routes​

Alan Adler Alan AdlerTuesday, April 13, 2021

Volvo Trucks North America received its first double-digit order of VNR Electric Trucks. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) will lease 14 VNR Electric daycabs to a Southern California food distributor. It is Volvo’s first double-digit order of zero-emission battery-electric tractors.

The truck leases and charging infrastructure will cost Quality Custom Distribution (QCD) about the same as diesel-powered trucks because of a $3.9 million grant to Volvo Financial Services from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Inland Port Program.

The port program consists of California’s largest transportation and clean air agencies and stakeholders. A total of $37.2 million in funding is available to assist fleet owners in the state’s Inland Empire to transition to zero- or near-zero-emission transportation to improve air quality.
“We’ll probably see incentives until at least the middle of the decade,” Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for Guidehouse Insights, told FreightWaves. “The electric truck market is definitely not as mature as the car market. We’re expecting it to gain significantly in the coming years “

Outgrowth of Volvo LIGHTS​

QCD will use the trucks built in Volvo’s New River Valley Assembly Plant in Virginia for last-mile delivery routes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California. The trucks will be based out of Fontana, where Volvo dealer TEC Equipment services electric trucks involved in the Volvo LIGHTS demonstration program. Deliveries begin this fall.
Volvo LIGHTS — which stands for Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions — is a collaboration of public and private stakeholders involved in all aspects of battery-electric vehicles with a goal of seeing widespread adoption.

QCD recently took delivery of its first Volvo VNR Electric through the LIGHTS program. QCD’s parent company, Golden State Foods, operates a fleet of 700 Class 8 tractors. About half of them are Volvo VNL and VNR models.

“With this exceptional commitment to deploy an additional 14 Volvo VNR Electric trucks, we are pleased that QCD has chosen to continue its longtime partnership with our organization to achieve its sustainable freight transportation goals,” Peter Voorhoeve, VTNA president, said in a press release.

Early commercialization​

VTNA is among the first major truck manufacturers in the U.S. to commercialize and sell battery-electric Class 8 trucks.

It began taking customer orders in December. Multiple deliveries are scheduled throughout 2021, with more than 100 VNR Electric models planned for fleet deliveries throughout California over the next two years. Seventy of those trucks are funded through an additional $21.7 million in grants that included money from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) last week opened its order books for Freightliner Class 8 eCascadia and Class 6 eM2 battery-electric trucks for delivery in 2022. DTNA has 30 electric trucks in operation through dedicated fleet tests with NFI Industries and Penske Truck Leasing. An additional eight electric trucks are part of a Customer Experience Fleet.

PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) brands Kenworth and Peterbilt are taking orders for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks. Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) is planning a medium-duty battery-electric truck in 2022. Mack Trucks, a Volvo Group sister brand of VTNA, is testing two battery-electric refuse haulers.

Paying for infrastructure​

Infrastructure provider Greenlots, a participant in Volvo LIGHTS, will design and install eight high-power charging stations at QCD’s Fontana distribution center to power the electric trucks.

“The challenge, especially for fleets, is not so much buying the trucks as it is putting in place the infrastructure they need for charging and support and making sure they have what they need to keep the trucks running.” Abuelsamid said.

Volvo Trucks hit by first UAW strike since 2008 Assembly workers walk out after 30-day contract extension expires-FREIGHTWAVES​

About 2,900 United Auto Workers (UAW) representing employees at Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) struck the truck manufacturer’s only North American plant in Dublin, Virginia, on Saturday for the first time since an eight-week walkout in 2008.

No talks to end the walkout are expected until at least April 26, Volvo Group spokesman John Mies told FreightWaves.

The strike comes as Volvo and other truck makers are suffering from a shortage of microchips that is impacting production. Volvo and Mack Trucks both indicated they expected to take downtime this quarter.

“We are surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike,” NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand said in a statement. “Progress was being made, and we had offered substantial increases in our employees’ compensation.”

Strike impact limited to Volvo plant​

The UAW struck for 12 days at VTNA’s Mack Trucks in 2019. That strike ultimately led to layoffs at Volvo because the UAW represented several facilities, including an engine plant in Maryland. Depots that provided parts to the plant and the aftermarket also were involved in the strike.

The VTNA agreement covers only the New River Valley operation. VTNA and Mack Trucks are part of the Sweden-based Volvo Group.

The five-year agreement between the UAW and Volvo expired March 15. It was extended 30 days to allow talks to continue. Workers had voted 96.8% in favor of authorizing a strike.

“We don’t understand why the UAW won’t allow our employees to continue building trucks while we continue negotiations,” Marchand said.

Virginia plant covers all of North America​

The Volvo Group is the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing group that assembles all of its trucks and engines for the North American market in the United States. The NRV plant employs more than 3,300 people. The plant is undergoing $400 million of investment for advanced technology upgrades.

The site is being expanded to allow for future products, including the Volvo VNR Electric truck. NRV has added 1,100 jobs during the current union agreement. It expects a net increase of approximately 600 positions in 2021.

“The union remains committed to exploring all options for reaching an agreement,” UAW Secretary-Treasurer and director of the union’s Heavy Duty Truck Department said in a letter, which appeared to be incorrectly addressed to the head of human resources at Mack Trucks in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

Said Marchand: “We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and look forward to getting back to the table. We are confident that we will be able to arrive at an agreement that provides a competitive wage and benefit package for our employees and families, and helps to ensure the plant’s competitiveness, long-term growth and sustainability.”
Volvo Snags Big Electric Truck Order-CleanTechnica


Image courtesy of Volvo Trucks.


Volvo Snags Big Electric Truck Order​

QCD, a company that delivers food to various food service customers, put in an order last week for 14 of Volvo’s VNR electric trucks. The vehicles will be used on last-mile routes in southern California.

“Earlier this month, we delivered QCD’s first VNR Electric to be used in its first-class distribution and logistics services,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “With this exceptional commitment to deploy an additional 14 Volvo VNR Electric trucks, we are pleased that QCD has chosen to continue its longtime partnership with our organization to achieve its sustainable freight transportation goals.”

The rest of the vehicles will be delivered this fall. The sale went through Gateway Truck & Refrigeration, one of Volvo’s truck dealers. The trucks will be used on various delivery routes in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

“Gateway Truck & Refrigeration is proud to be a part of this landmark project,” said Zach Wagner, principal for Gateway Truck & Refrigeration. “The real-world insights gained from these vehicles operating in QCD’s daily routes will help us continue to offer the Volvo VNR Electric to fleet customers nationwide.”

Part of the funding came from a $3.9 million grant awarded to Volvo Financial Services (VFS) from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee’s (MSRC) Inland Port Program. The grant funding was enough to make the Volvo electric truck cost competitive with diesel alternatives.

“The experience gained from this program will help accelerate battery-electric truck adoption in QCD’s fleet, as well as other last-mile delivery fleets,” said Mike Douglas, senior director of strategic procurement, QCD. “We are excited to partner with Volvo Trucks and VFS to put these VNR Electrics to work and begin reducing emissions throughout the region.”

Greenlots, a well-known EV charging company, will design and install eight high-powered chargers at QCD’s Fontana distribution center to power the vehicles. The plan is for QCD to learn a lot more about vehicle charging with these first vehicles, and then know what it will need in terms of charging stations as it adds more electric trucks to the fleet.

“Volvo Trucks and VFS continue to pave the way for truck electrification,” said Andreas Lips, chief executive officer of Greenlots. “Greenlots is proud to support these efforts with fast-charging solutions and data services that continue to innovate and improve electric vehicle charging for the fleet industry.”

The Inland Port Program still has tens of millions of dollars available for more projects like this. It wants to help more businesses and other entities switch their trucks and other vehicles to zero emissions. This is nothing new for Inland Port Program, as it has spent over $400 million since 1990 on projects to reduce emissions in the South Coast basin. Unlike projects in the past, though, electric trucks are relatively new. They hope that the experience gained working with different types of heavy vehicle users will enable it to coach more entities as they transition in the future.

More About The Volvo VNR Electric​

Looking at the Volvo website, I dug up some more information about the VNR Electric for readers.

It’s a class 8 truck, and comes in three configurations: a straight truck, a 4×2 tractor, and a 6×2 tractor. Range for the tractor configurations is 120 miles, while the range for the straight truck is 150 miles. It has a 264 kWh battery, and uses CCS DC fast charging to charge up. They estimate 70 minutes to charge up to 80%.

The electric drivetrain can deliver 340 kW of power, that’s 455 horsepower. Torque maxes out at 4,051 lb-ft. It uses a two-speed automatic gearbox, and can go a max of 65 MPH.

One Big Question About The Grants​

One thing I found odd when getting information from the press release was that it took a governmental grant to bring Volvo’s vehicles to within cost competitiveness with diesel trucks.

While Tesla hasn’t delivered any Tesla Semis yet, they come in fairly competitively with the price of a new diesel semi truck. Then, the savings from not buying diesel and not paying for diesel engine maintenance makes up for the extra cost in 2 years. Some even estimate that a truck owner would break even faster.

The $3.9 million grant comes out to about $280,000 per vehicle, and includes charging station installation and other needs. We don’t have pricing information on the VNR Electric at this point, but it seems like that much grant money per vehicle is a lot when we consider that Tesla wants to sell the Semi for $180,000 max.

The charging stations are probably a big part of the cost, here, but probably can’t explain the whole cost without the trucks being fairly expensive.

Even If Not Competitive With The Tesla Semi, Still A Good Thing​

While Volvo’s platform seems to be pretty inferior to the upcoming Semi in most respects (range and cost seem to be the big thing here), keep in mind that the Volvo trucks are on the market today while the Semi is still in development. The early electric cars from every manufacturer had lower range and high costs, so it would be foolish to expect otherwise as electric heavy trucks emerge.

Another thing we need to consider is that even an EV with less capability is good enough if it gets the intended job done. A foodservice company delivering food to places like cafeterias and restaurants isn’t like the driver of a typical vehicle. Sure, we all have our daily commutes, but we want more range and capability for the unusual things we do, like take a road trip or go on an unexpected number of errands across a big metro area. The trucks run a specific route to specific places on a schedule, and at the end of the day, the drivers go home. There are very few surprises (at least in terms of range).

Every EV that’s out there working is one less ICE engine polluting the environment and warming the climate. It doesn’t matter who sold it or who it benefits as much as that it’s clean, gets the intended job done, and the world becomes a better place.

The price of all this will come down the same way the price for electric cars did, so it’s going to be OK in the long run.

Image courtesy of Volvo Trucks.
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