Volvo Trucks reports that one of its three upcoming new EV models, the Volvo FH Electric, (a high-payload model for city to city transport) has successfully completed an independent energy efficiency test.

The fully-loaded vehicle with a gross combination weight of 40 tonnes and three-motor (390 kW) configuration, has been tested by a German trucking journalist - Jan Burgdorf - on the Green Truck Route.

It's a 343 km (213 miles) long route, specifically used for testing different manufacturers' trucks in a wide range of conditions, as it includes a variety of motorways, hilly terrains, and tighter roads.

As it turns out, the truck was able to cover the distance at an average speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and still had some energy left - the total range is estimated at 345 km (214 miles).

An important thing is that the energy consumption was roughly 50% lower than in the case of the diesel version of the same FH model. The energy consumption stands at 1.1 kWh/km, which indicates that the truck consumed over 377 kWh.

That's not bad. Since there are various battery options from 180 kWh to 540 kWh (2-6 individual battery packs), fleets should be able to select a model with the right battery size for a particular application.

Volvo FH Electric
Volvo FH Electric
from left: Volvo FM Electric, Volvo FH Electric and Volvo FMX Electric
from left: Volvo FM Electric, Volvo FH Electric and Volvo FMX Electric

The electric version of the Volvo FH is also easy to drive, quiet and more agile than a diesel truck, according to the driver.

Jan Burgdorf said:

“I have to say, when driving this truck it is as agile, or even more agile, than a diesel truck. Drivers will be very surprised about how easy it is to drive, how quiet it is and how well it responds. There are no vibrations whatsoever,”.

Volvo Trucks says that when including a short charging during lunchtime, it should be possible to drive up to 500 km (311 miles) per day.

Facts about the test and the truck

  • Gross combination weight: 40 tonnes
  • Average speed: 80 km/h
  • Energy consumption: 1,1 kWh/km
  • Battery capacity: 540 kWh
  • Output power: 490 kW continuous power
  • Total test track distance: 343 km
  • Total range based on one charge: 345 km
  • The tested Volvo FH Electric can cover up to 500 km during a normal workday if a
  • top-up charge is added, for example during the lunch break.

Volvo FH Electric - general specs

High-payload model for city to city transport.

Volvo FH Electric specs:

  • Range: Up to 300 km (4x2 tractor trailer)
  • Battery capacity: 180–540 kWh, 2-6 batteries
  • Gross Combination Weight: Up to 44 tonnes
  • Axle Configurations:
    Tractor: 4×2, 6×2, 6x4​
    Rigid: 4×2, 6×2, 6×4, 8×2, 8×4
    All axles are air suspended
  • Cab: Low sleeper cab, sleeper cab, Globetrotter cab, Globetrotter XL cab
  • Driveline: 2–3 electric motors, I-Shift gearbox
  • Performance: Up to 330–490 kW (450–666 hp) continuous power
  • Charging time (full charge​):
    9.5h with AC (43 kW) three-phase
    2.5h with DC (250 kW)

Extreme winter weather

Standard driving tests are not the only ones conducted by Volvo Trucks. In late December the company highlighted extreme winter weather tests of the Volvo FH Electric model, close to the Arctic Circle.

To make sure that the truck will work as it should even at temperatures of -25°C, the company has developed a special feature - called Ready to Run -  to remotely manage battery temperature.

It can heat up the battery and the cabin (or cool down in warm conditions) as well as schedule when the truck must be ready to go on a weekly basis.

"One tangible result of the winter testing is a new feature called Ready to Run. This feature prepares the truck for the workday, when needed by pre-heating, or if operating in very warm weather, by cooling the batteries and the cab of the truck. The optimal temperature for the batteries is around +25° and the driver can easily start the preheating or precooling, remotely via an app."

Volvo FH Electric
Volvo FH Electric
Volvo FH Electric: Ready to Run battery temperature preconditioning
Volvo FH Electric: Ready to Run battery temperature preconditioning

The Ready to Run feature will be implemented in all three upcoming new models: Volvo FH, FM and FMX Electric.

Volvo Trucks electrification plan

Volvo Trucks announced a target that by 2030, half of its truck sales will be electric. The major switch will begin once the FH, FM and FMX Electric models will enter production in Europe in the second half of 2022.

The smaller Volvo FL and FE Electric models are available in Europe since 2019, while in North America, the company has started production of Volvo VNR Electric in 2021. This model recently received range and charging upgrade.

At this point, it's not clear how well the electric truck will sell. In November, DFDS, Northern Europe's largest shipping and logistics company, has ordered 100 Volvo FM Electric. In December the company has increased the order by additional 25 units to 125 total. It's the largest single order for electric trucks from Volvo Trucks.

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