Volvo Snags Big Electric Truck Order

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QCD, a company that delivers food to various food service customers, put in an order last week for 14 of Volvo’s VNR electric trucks. The vehicles will be used on last-mile routes in southern California.

“Earlier this month, we delivered QCD’s first VNR Electric to be used in its first-class distribution and logistics services,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “With this exceptional commitment to deploy an additional 14 Volvo VNR Electric trucks, we are pleased that QCD has chosen to continue its longtime partnership with our organization to achieve its sustainable freight transportation goals.”

The rest of the vehicles will be delivered this fall. The sale went through Gateway Truck & Refrigeration, one of Volvo’s truck dealers. The trucks will be used on various delivery routes in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

“Gateway Truck & Refrigeration is proud to be a part of this landmark project,” said Zach Wagner, principal for Gateway Truck & Refrigeration. “The real-world insights gained from these vehicles operating in QCD’s daily routes will help us continue to offer the Volvo VNR Electric to fleet customers nationwide.”

Part of the funding came from a $3.9 million grant awarded to Volvo Financial Services (VFS) from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee’s (MSRC) Inland Port Program. The grant funding was enough to make the Volvo electric truck cost competitive with diesel alternatives.

“The experience gained from this program will help accelerate battery-electric truck adoption in QCD’s fleet, as well as other last-mile delivery fleets,” said Mike Douglas, senior director of strategic procurement, QCD. “We are excited to partner with Volvo Trucks and VFS to put these VNR Electrics to work and begin reducing emissions throughout the region.”

Greenlots, a well-known EV charging company, will design and install eight high-powered chargers at QCD’s Fontana distribution center to power the vehicles. The plan is for QCD to learn a lot more about vehicle charging with these first vehicles, and then know what it will need in terms of charging stations as it adds more electric trucks to the fleet.

“Volvo Trucks and VFS continue to pave the way for truck electrification,” said Andreas Lips, chief executive officer of Greenlots. “Greenlots is proud to support these efforts with fast-charging solutions and data services that continue to innovate and improve electric vehicle charging for the fleet industry.”

The Inland Port Program still has tens of millions of dollars available for more projects like this. It wants to help more businesses and other entities switch their trucks and other vehicles to zero emissions. This is nothing new for Inland Port Program, as it has spent over $400 million since 1990 on projects to reduce emissions in the South Coast basin. Unlike projects in the past, though, electric trucks are relatively new. They hope that the experience gained working with different types of heavy vehicle users will enable it to coach more entities as they transition in the future.

More About The Volvo VNR Electric

Looking at the Volvo website, I dug up some more information about the VNR Electric for readers.

It’s a class 8 truck, and comes in three configurations: a straight truck, a 4×2 tractor, and a 6×2 tractor. Range for the tractor configurations is 120 miles, while the range for the straight truck is 150 miles. It has a 264 kWh battery, and uses CCS DC fast charging to charge up. They estimate 70 minutes to charge up to 80%.

The electric drivetrain can deliver 340 kW of power, that’s 455 horsepower. Torque maxes out at 4,051 lb-ft. It uses a two-speed automatic gearbox, and can go a max of 65 MPH.

One Big Question About The Grants

One thing I found odd when getting information from the press release was that it took a governmental grant to bring Volvo’s vehicles to within cost competitiveness with diesel trucks.

While Tesla hasn’t delivered any Tesla Semis yet, they come in fairly competitively with the price of a new diesel semi truck. Then, the savings from not buying diesel and not paying for diesel engine maintenance makes up for the extra cost in 2 years. Some even estimate that a truck owner would break even faster.

The $3.9 million grant comes out to about $280,000 per vehicle, and includes charging station installation and other needs. We don’t have pricing information on the VNR Electric at this point, but it seems like that much grant money per vehicle is a lot when we consider that Tesla wants to sell the Semi for $180,000 max.

The charging stations are probably a big part of the cost, here, but probably can’t explain the whole cost without the trucks being fairly expensive.

Even If Not Competitive With The Tesla Semi, Still A Good Thing

While Volvo’s platform seems to be pretty inferior to the upcoming Semi in most respects (range and cost seem to be the big thing here), keep in mind that the Volvo trucks are on the market today while the Semi is still in development. The early electric cars from every manufacturer had lower range and high costs, so it would be foolish to expect otherwise as electric heavy trucks emerge.

Another thing we need to consider is that even an EV with less capability is good enough if it gets the intended job done. A foodservice company delivering food to places like cafeterias and restaurants isn’t like the driver of a typical vehicle. Sure, we all have our daily commutes, but we want more range and capability for the unusual things we do, like take a road trip or go on an unexpected number of errands across a big metro area. The trucks run a specific route to specific places on a schedule, and at the end of the day, the drivers go home. There are very few surprises (at least in terms of range).

Every EV that’s out there working is one less ICE engine polluting the environment and warming the climate. It doesn’t matter who sold it or who it benefits as much as that it’s clean, gets the intended job done, and the world becomes a better place.

The price of all this will come down the same way the price for electric cars did, so it’s going to be OK in the long run.

Image courtesy of Volvo Trucks.


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