Commercial electric vehicle startup Volta Trucks has confirmed that the first Volta Zero truck has been completed at contract manufacturer Steyr Automotive's plant in Steyr, Austria. There's a caveat, though; this is not the first customer vehicle.
The milestone vehicle is the first of a series of second-generation "Production Verification" prototypes and will form part of a Pilot Fleet of trucks. These will loaned to customers for extended periods in late 2022 and early 2023, allowing fleet operators to understand how the purpose-built medium-duty commercial EV will integrate into their operations.
The start of series production for customer specification vehicles is scheduled to follow in early 2023. Steyr Automotive, formerly MAN Truck and Bus Austria, has reserved a capacity of 14,000 vehicles per year for Volta Trucks from its total available production. Manufacturing the Volta Zero is estimated to create 510 jobs over time, plus 180 jobs in the building of the cargo boxes, in addition to 2,000 positions within the supply chain.
The manufacturing contract has a value of up to €1 billion ($1 billion) over its lifetime. Steyr Automotive was appointed by Volta Trucks to build the Zero electric truck in August 2021, thanks to its more than 100 years of manufacturing experience building large commercial vehicles.
"This first vehicle rolling off the line at our manufacturing plant in Steyr is the latest significant milestone on the Volta Trucks journey towards the start of production of customers' vehicles. To have achieved this significant landmark in just 12 months is a testament to the pace that we are working at to deliver the safest and most sustainable trucks to urban streets, and the excellent collaboration we have with our partners at Steyr Automotive."
Kjell Walöen, Co-Founder and Chief Manufacturing and Logistics Officer of Volta Trucks
The Volta Zero is described as the world's first purpose-built fully electric 16-tonne vehicle designed for urban logistics, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of freight deliveries in city centers. The vehicle offers an operating range of 150-200 kilometers (95-125 miles) and is projected to eliminate an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 by 2025.
In designing the vehicle, Volta Trucks focused on making "the safest trucks for our cities," which is why the Zero has the operator sitting in a central driving position, with a much lower seat height than a conventional truck. Combined with the glass house-style cab design, this gives the driver a wide 220-degrees of visibility, minimizing dangerous blind spots.
Volta Trucks claims to have big orders from DB Schenker (1,470 vehicles) and Petit Forestier (1,000), with the total order bank currently numbering around 6,500 vehicles worth around €1.4 billion ($1.4 billion).