Volvo VNR Electric Semi Truck To Hit California Roads Next Year

DEC 12 2018 BY MARK KANE 49

Volvo Trucks is going to compete with Tesla and Daimler in semi trucks

Volvo Trucks announced a new all-electric Volvo VNR Electric semi truck that will be unveiled and demonstrated in California in 2019. Production and sales is already scheduled for 2020.

The Swedish group intends to introduce an electric version of the VNR using powertrain from smaller Volvo FE Electric model, as well as experience from sister company – Volvo Buses, which delivered more than 4,000 electrified buses (HEV, PHEV and BEVs).

Currently, there are not many details about the Volvo VNR Electric besides a few teasers. The FE Electric is equipped with a 370 kW, dual motor system and 2-speed transmission.

Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America said:

“We are proud to announce the Volvo VNR Electric, designed to support cities focused on sustainable urban development and fleets operating in a range of regional-haul and distribution operations. The Volvo VNR Electric leverages the versatility of the new Volvo VNR series with a proven fully-electric powertrain, and represents a strategic stride toward a comprehensive electrified transport ecosystem. Cities prioritizing sustainable urban development can leverage electrified transport solutions to help improve air quality and reduce traffic noise. Cleaner, quieter, fully-electric commercial transport also creates opportunities for expanded morning and late-night operations, helping cut traffic congestion during peak hours.”

Volvo VNR Electric
4 photos
Volvo VNR Electric Volvo VNR Electric Volvo Trucks - electric powertrain

More from press release:

“The Volvo VNR is ideal for applications like heavy urban distribution, drayage and other regional applications where electric trucks will first have the greatest impact,” said Johan Agebrand, Volvo Trucks North America director of product marketing. “The VNR series has received tremendous industry acceptance since its April 2017 introduction and the addition of an all-electric powertrain provides even greater opportunities to expand its footprint in the regional-haul market.”

Introduction of the Volvo VNR Electric models are part of an innovative partnership, known as LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) between the Volvo Group, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), and industry leaders in transportation and electrical charging infrastructure.

“The LIGHTS project is a truly unique opportunity to showcase a holistic approach to electrification of the freight transport industry as we handle ongoing challenges including electricity generation and battery optimization,” said Voorhoeve. “We appreciate that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the SCAQMD have recognized our leadership and trusted us to oversee this project that will ultimately result in the commercialization of fully-electric heavy-duty trucks. In addition to introducing the VNR Electric, through LIGHTS we will bring a complete sustainable freight solution with end-to-end electrification coordination with our many partners.”

“Electric trucks bring many unknowns and our holistic focus through the LIGHTS project will help our fleet partners transition securely and smoothly based on their individual needs regarding driving cycles, load capacity, uptime, range and other parameters,” said Agebrand. “Within the project we’ll look at everything from route analysis and battery optimization to servicing and financing. We always aim to offer high uptime and productivity.”

CARB has preliminarily awarded $44.8 million to SCAQMD for the Volvo LIGHTS project. The Volvo LIGHTS project will involve 16 partners, and will transform freight operations at the facilities of two of the United States’ top trucking fleets. Volvo LIGHTS is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Here is how the standard Volvo VNR looks:

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49 Comments on "Volvo VNR Electric Semi Truck To Hit California Roads Next Year"

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Only 2 years behind the Tesla Semi.

Not really. Maybe a year.
Here’s a video in Espanol.
Tesla Semi:

“370 kW, dual motor system and 2-speed transmission”
Tesla learned that a 2 speed transmission doesn’t make sense for electrics vehicles in 2008 so they’re actually 10 years behind Tesla. The Tesla also has twice the power, suggesting a larger battery, and economies of scale with both the batteries and drive units. Volvo has a lot of work to do.

370 kW is the FE, not this truck (VNR).

Tesla tried and failed to use a 2 speed transmission in a car. That doesn’t mean Volvo will fail in a truck.

The failure is needing to use a 2 speed.

You sure about that? ICE semi trucks usually have 10 to 18 ratios in their transmission. There might be advantages to having a few gears in a semi, given the huge variability of loads.

Nope. With an electric motor, it delivers massive torque right from the gitgo. With ice, you have a fairly narrow range where you deliver torque AND fuel efficiency. It is a big reason why series hybrids can be very effective. The only reason why a transmission is needed for an EV is if you need lots of torque through a large range of speed.

Electric motors’ range for efficient operation is bigger than that of an ICE, but both have optimum ranges of torque and RPMs that it’s best to operate them in. Sure, an electric motor will give you full torque from 0 RPM, but if you gear it short in order to multiply that torque, you end up running the motor inefficiently at highway speed. That’s why gears aren’t a terrible idea, especially for a vehicle with highly variable loads. Also, AFAIK both Rimac models to date have had 2 speed gearboxes, and I don’t think anyone here would accuse the Croatians of not knowing how to build proper EVs!

The Tesla Semi will have at least 4 motors with each axle capable of having its own reduction gear ratio and no need to do Hypercar top speeds.No need for transmissions.

This bears repeating, with 4 motors and differing reduction gears, they will be programmed to run when each is most needed and efficient. No different than what Tesla is doing now in their autos..

Hardly a failure. the two speed provides good acceleration with less total power. The Tesla new roadster is also going to use a two speed to allow both crazy acceleration and crazy top speed.

True. Semis don’t need top speeds in excess of 250 MPH.

Source on 2 speed for Roadster?

Rimac use two speeds and is not a failure.

I bet the next gen roadster has a multi-speed transmission. Electric motors have power bands too, if you want to stay in the power band you need gears. Do you think Formula E race cars use transmissions just because they like carryinng extra weight around? A multi-speed transmission may not be strictly necessary in an EV, but it is necessary if you want maximum performance.

There may be a difference between a 2-3 tonn car, and a 50+ tonn truck.
Either you have to supersize the motor, and use more electricity then needed, or have one very low gear which result in poor efficiency in higer speeds. . or maybe add a simple transmission of some kind. Time will tell what’s the best solution. Wait 10 years, and see what’s the most common solution.

Rimac has demonstrated that a 2-speed transmission works quite well in an EV.

Sales in 2020. When will Tesla sell the semi?

Who will be first to deliver the 100th BEV semi?


Probably more if you look at usability, this is just an urban distribution/drayage short range affair.

Volvo doesn’t have a charging network like Tesla.

I do all 48 states plus Canada, have yet to see a Tesla Semi charging location.
You are touting something that isn’t built yet, just sayin’

Volvo builds a quality product, this should be a welcome addition to the trucking industry., as will Daimler and Tesla, Thor, etc.
There’s plenty of room, space and applications for everybody who is building EV trucks.

Tesla uses multiple superchargers to act as a megacharger right now, so they literally do have the only semi charging network. But that is a stopgap measure. Clearly they do need dedicated megachargers. But already having existing supercharger network makes that much easier. They can just modify many of the supercharger sites to include megachargers.

Volvo…they have ZERO experience in this. They can certainly do it….but it would be really hard.

Everyone (including Tesla) should really be pushing for a megacharger standard to get the ball rolling for everyone.

What do they have ZERO experience in?
They make electric buses, garbage trucks and they have autonomous Volvo FM trucks working in a lime stone quarry in Norway.

Volvo is bigger than you realize. They are involved in lots of industry including power electricity. Volvo is better suited for EVs than most companies.

Some will confuse Volvo Trucks with Volvo Car Corporation of China.

Won’t matter because Tesla won’t be using the Supercharger for their Semi. They’d be using the Megachargers.
And so far, there are no Megachargers, yet.

They can use oppcharge ( or a standard CCS charger. They can provide a lot of juice. Volvo is a part of both stardards.
The electric Volvo garbage truck in my area use CCS, and so do the bus.
The city is considering some oppcharge locations.

Tesla does not have a charging network for semis. Even now when Tesla stops off at certain stops, they use 4 stations at a time with extension cords. At the moment, they are counting on going from warehouse to warehouse and charging at those.

Proprietary charging systems are at best a stopgap measure. There are no Toyota, Ford, etc. fuel stations.

So how are they going to charge them?

Tesla has a REALLY BIG advantage here. They already have superchargers worldwide. It probably won’t take much to change many of those to include Megachargers for semis. But no one else has that? So what will they do?

Is there is a standard for semi-charging being developed? I don’t see how this market takes off without one.

Do you seriously think commercial trucks are going to spend hours on chargers on the road, and waste driver compensation, truck CaPex & increase delivery times for mouse nuts of hypothetical fuel cost savings?

These will be mostly short range fleet trucks, going the same route every day. OTR will stay in happy battery vapor dream world for now.

Where both Volvo and Daimler have an advantage over Tesla is Volvo alone has over 100 service centers and excellent parts distribution IN STOCK to keep their trucks up and running, neither of these companies screw around when it comes to parts and service. If you take like their Chicago parts warehouse for example, they have darn near have even every last oem bolt in stock. You could probably build a complete truck out of their inventory including the frame and body parts, it’s impressive. No doubt all their dealer will have ability to charge, and yes there is an SAE standard in the works for all EV trucks sans Tesla. I hope everybody succeeds. But for sure Tesla isn’t the only game in town for EV truck. The big four in class 8 trucks all have excellent reputations in performance, parts and service. Tesla will need to earn their mettle in this department, because zero trucking companies would put up with the bull crap Tesla does with their cars when it comes to parts. I sincerely hope who ever is in charge of the semi parts and service understands that. If history is a lesson, there’s much to be… Read more »

Big difference is that ice vehicles break down far more than EVs. But I agree that truckers will not tolerate 2-6 month wait for part. 6 hours will get them upset.

Unless you separate the trailer semi trucks are huge. They will not fit on most (all?) supercharger properties without being totally disruptive.

They don’t need infrastructure, read the article this is for urban cycle and drayage, it’s unrelated to what Tesla is trying to achieve.

This urban cycle is a better first step for EV trucks anyway. It just makes sense, and it’s a large market. It will actually be easier/cheaper to plug in the trucks than having a diesel fueling service come by, or the nightmare of having your own diesel pumps/tanks. Any refrigerated service already has 220v at each and every truck parking bay.

I’m rather surprised we haven’t seen the daily urban routes start the switch over to EV already. Really seems like low hanging fruit.

These traditional automakers especially in the truck segment are wedded to diesel. All this news about their electric truck is to discourage companies from placing orders on Tesla semi.
Don’t believe in them.

Even if they sell, they will sell only in California or another state as compliance truck.

Volvo is building 23 trucks for California with 58 fast chargers in place for year 2019.

Then nationwide in 2020

Ignorance takes a whole new level in the comments here. Tesla is WAY behind when it comes to electrification of trucks. And as Bunny said above, not a single company will build their fleet only on a truck manufacturer’s totally unproven product. The so-called traditional automakers have spent decades refining their products/service/part supply. And yes, they are married to diesel because there is/was really nothing else. EV is only in it’s infancy, and the Tesla semi is so far only an idea – a good one though. Battery tech and prices need to be lower in order for the Tesla semi to be a reality. That’s why they are not making it yet.

This is not a Tesla competitor, read the article, it’s a short range affair for Urban cycle and drayage.

There is no Tesla truck to be bought either. .

Very nice, some years ago “Electric Semis” were called impossible. From the truck makers and from a lot of logistic companies. All gone. Everybody jumps on the EV train. Everybody can see, that higher efficiency and fewer parts are ideal for a sector with high workloads.

Because of Tesla.

Or because of GM. Or because of Nissan. Gimme a break with this Tesla worship.

Musk needs to worry less about mars and worry about earth or he will be left behind.

I’ve wondered why European companies come to California to announce their electric vehicles. Seems their home markets are where they need to concentrate, diesel is cheaper than electricity here.

An earlier announcement from Volvo Trucks partner Greenlots claimed they will be implementing SAE J3068, making Volvo the first big name to implement 3 phase AC charging. But no mention of it in this announcement from Volvo apparently.