Volvo Trucks launches VNR Electric Class 8 sales

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Volvo officially launched North American commercial sales of its VNR electric heavy-duty truck today, ahead of production, which will begin “early 2021”.

The truck will be available in three configurations: a single-axle box truck with a GVWR of 33,200 lbs and two tractor configurations, a 4 × 2 with 66,000 lbs and a 6 × 2 with a GVWR of 82,000 lbs.

We attended the Volvo Trucks launch for the electric VNR earlier this year in Fontana, California. Fontana is at the heart of the Inland Empire in Southern California, an area that has experienced tremendous growth as a logistics hub for shipments entering the United States via Long Beach, home to the two largest ports of containers in the country.

Volvo has been running a pilot program in Fontana for over a year, in partnership with local logistics companies to assess the viability of these electric trucks. At the launch event, we heard from drivers and executives who seemed happy with the trucks so far.

Today’s announcement doesn’t give us much more information about the trucks, just that they are available for commercial sale. Availability has been pushed back from “late 2020” to “early 2021” (much like another electric truck you may have heard of), and the battery size has been reduced from 300 kWh to 264 kWh.

Volvo claims that the 264 kWh battery will allow operating ranges of up to 150 miles depending on the truck configuration, and that the battery will be able to recharge to 80% in 70 minutes on a sufficiently fast DC charger. The electric transmission will provide 455 horsepower and 4,051 pound-feet of torque.

VNR Electric will primarily target local and regional distribution applications, such as food and beverage and pickup and delivery routes.

Watch Volvo’s video showcasing the truck here:

In addition to the obvious fuel cost and environmental benefits that come with electric trucks, Volvo Trucks also sees other logistical and human resource benefits to be gained. Eliminating noisy and smelly diesel engines will allow for quieter and cleaner operation, making life easier for drivers. Quieter trucks could also allow more flexible delivery times, allowing overnight neighborhood deliveries, reducing traffic and adding more flexibility to logistics managers.

While there are no plans yet for the VNR Electric to be fully autonomous, it will have several of Volvo’s active safety features, such as Volvo Active Driver Assist and Lane Departure Warning.

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