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Meet the World’s First 16-Tonne Electric Truck

Renewable Energy
The Volta Zero truck.
A wider variety of electric vehicles is being introduced. Volta Trucks

By Douglas Broom

There were 10 million electric cars on the world's roads at the end of 2020 as registrations soared by 41% in just one year. But when it comes to hauling heavy loads, most of the world's trucks still run on diesel.

But that's starting to change with the introduction in Germany of the world's first 16 tonne (approximately 17.6 U.S ton) all-electric truck.


The Volta Zero has already been demonstrated in France, Italy and Spain. It's due to enter service by the end of this year.

Electrifying truck fleets will have a positive impact on urban air quality. According to the United Nations, nine out of 10 of us breathe polluted air. Air quality is at its worst in city centers. The 96 entries in the global league table of the worst air quality locations are all cities. Recent research shows 3.4 early deaths are caused by outdoor air pollution every year.


Cleaner Air and Safer Streets

As well as being the first purpose-designed all-electric commercial vehicle designed for city center deliveries with a range of 200 km (approximately 124 miles) between charges, the Volta Zero is also claimed to be one of the safest trucks in the world.

The driver sits in the center of the cab at low-level to mirror the eyeline of pedestrians and car drivers. Conventional truck blindpots are eliminated by what the makers call a "glasshouse-style cab" with 220⁰ visibility, supplemented by cameras in place of conventional mirrors.

Sweden-based Volta has also shown the Zero to potential customers in London where a fifth of all pedestrian fatalities and over 70% of cyclist deaths are caused by trucks even though they only account for 4% of vehicle mileage in the city.

Perfect Timing

The timing of their sales campaign is particularly opportune. Earlier this year, 14 Dutch cities announced they would ban fossil fuel vans and trucks from their urban areas from 2025. Across Europe, communities will allow only electric vehicles in towns and city centers in the future.

Volta Trucks is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Innovators Community, an invitation-only group of the world's most promising start-ups and scale-ups that are at the forefront of technological and business model innovation.

The Zero is not the only truck vying for the lucrative urban market. Last autumn Amazon ordered 10,000 electric vans from U.S.-based maker Rivian and 1,800 Mercedes electric vans for use in Europe, the German manufacturer's biggest single electric vehicle order.

An electric Hummer pick up truck.

Rivian is also building an all-electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) with deliveries due to start in July 2021. It's a market that's attracting a lot of attention in the U.S. with an all-electric Hummer SUV due to be delivered to customers from early 2023. The pickup version is due this autumn.

The Biggest Yet?

But when it comes to the largest vehicles in the world, such as the huge dump trucks used in mining and quarrying, electrification is also coming soon thanks to a collaboration between a company best known for Formula One racing cars and a French energy firm.

Together, Williams Advanced Engineering and ENGIE have developed what's claimed to be the world's largest electric vehicle. Weighing in at 263 tonnes, the modified Komatsu dump truck uses hydrogen fuel cell technology to generate the power for its electric motors.

The electricity is stored in high powered lithium-ion batteries. Testing of the new truck is due to start at Anglo American's Mogalakwena platinum mine in South Africa later this year. The Williams team are already working on a plug-in battery mining truck for use in Australia.

Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.

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