New All Electric HGV Moves to Next Testing Stage

EUROPE – UK – The continuing, and rapid, development of the project to bring a practical, all electric, HGV to market continues apace as Volta Trucks, confirmed this week it has started engineering evaluation and development testing of the first prototype Volta Zero at HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton, UK. Following on from its successful European tour to demonstrate its practicality to would be purchasers the unit, christened ‘Volta Minus One’ by development engineers, as the forerunner to the production-specification Volta Zero, the prototype vehicle uses the proposed production specification chassis frame and drivetrain of the finished vehicle and will test all the electro-mechanical and thermal properties of the truck. The test unit includes the high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra, and the compact rear axle, electric motor and transmission eAxle unit from Meritor.

The unconventional bodywork of the prototype is purely designed to protect the development driver from the elements when the vehicle is moving at speed. The production vehicle will feature a cargo box design, but the prototype uses a flatbed to allow engineers to add different levels and locations of loads to test its weight carrying capacity. The testing is expected to last some months and will include both this, and later-specification prototypes also include, periods of cold weather testing north of the Arctic Circle, and hot weather testing in southern Europe.

The comprehensive programme will ensure that the production-specification Volta Zero vehicles deliver the durability and reliability expected by fleet operators and vehicle owners, allaying any concerns about what is a very old technology, but now with many advances. Considering the first electric London taxi hit the streets almost 125 years ago with the invention of the lead-acid cell in 1859 immediately bringing about a slew of vehicles some 40 years earlier, the development of commercial vehicles has been pretty much restricted to the old style trams, and the milk floats we still see today. The Volta plans for similar urban delivery and collection cycles to these, but with a range of up to 200 kilometres.

Volta has designed their all electric 16 tonne HGV from the ground up, with all round vision and a central driving position allowing access from either side of the very low cab. Now the trials being undertaken will set out the parameters for the completed Pilot Fleet vehicles that will be tested and evaluated by key customers who have signed up for both testing and the option to purchase series production trucks. This is designed to develop the companies understanding of how the Volta Zero will integrate into their transport operations.

Full-scale production of customer-specification vehicles is then scheduled to follow at the end of 2022. Chief Product Officer of Volta Trucks, Ian Collins, said: “The start of testing and evaluation of the first prototype Volta Zero is a major milestone on our journey towards production, and an exciting time for all of the Volta Trucks team and our customers.

To have achieved this landmark moment in just eight months is a great example of the nimble and agile approach we have at Volta Trucks.

“We work at high pace to ensure that we can bring zero emission, full-electric commercial vehicles to market quickly, because our customers require vehicles as soon as possible.

We need to go through a comprehensive and thorough development programme, but the start of prototype testing is evidence that we are on track to deliver production vehicles, on time, by the end of next year.”