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December 3, 2020 4:30 PM, EST

VTNA Unveils Plan for Launch of VNR Electric Sales

Volvo VNR ElectricVolvo Trucks North America

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Volvo Trucks North America announced a far-reaching plan for the launch of its heavy-duty VNR Electric model that incorporates customer plans for service contracts, access to insurance and financing for both vehicles and charging stations, and which follows a measured approach for adding buyers to ensure the customized processes of incorporating electric trucks into a fleet are addressed.

“We’re working individually with all our customers to define their needs, their routes, their applications and, not the least, how to handle charging, infrastructure for charging and power supply, as well as to secure dealers’ readiness,” Magnus Koeck, vice president of strategy at VTNA, told Transport Topics. “At this point, we expect a greater interest from markets like California and New York as they have incentives available, but this will of course change over time.”

Commercial production of the VNR Electric at VTNA’s Dublin, Va., plant is expected to begin in early 2021. The truck is targeted at regional and local distribution, food and beverage, and pickup and delivery operations. The 264-kilowatt lithium-ion batteries, which charge up to 80% within 70 minutes, have an operating range of up to 150 miles based on the truck’s configuration. The batteries have an expected life of six to eight years.

Volvo VNR charging

Volvo VNR charging location. (Volvo Trucks North America)

VTNA has been working with potential customers for about two years, Koeck said.

“We also have trucks running at customers today in southern California within the LIGHTS project,” he added, citing the company’s ongoing pilot with 14 other organizations at that state’s ports.

In a virtual press conference Dec. 3, VTNA noted the truck is part of a complete support system, with some first-time features. That includes its Volvo Gold Service contract, which comes standard with the VNR Electric and is the first such contract VTNA has ever offered.

The Gold Service contract covers scheduled and preventative maintenance, towing and vehicle repair including the vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries and the complete electromobility system, according to the Greensboro, N.C.-based company, a unit of Volvo Group, which also includes Mack Trucks.

“There is much more to the successful commercialization of electric trucks than simply designing and delivering a cutting-edge vehicle. By considering every detail — from the point-of-sale to charging, uptime, driver experience, service, support and beyond — we are able to make the transition to electrification as seamless and efficient as possible for our customers,” said VTNA President Peter Voorhoeve.

Volvo VNR dash

Volvo VNR battery monitoring dash display. (Volvo Trucks North America)

Volvo Financial Services offers truck financing or leasing and multiple financing options for installing the necessary charging stations. It will also bundle the VGS contract with the truck payment.

For dealers, VFS will offer inventory financing options on in-stock or pre-sold units, along with financing solutions for on-site charging stations.

VFS also is offering access to insurance coverage for the VNR Electric in select U.S. markets via third-party licensed agents.

The electric driveline is a fully integrated, Volvo proprietary solution, rated at 455 horsepower and generating up to 4,051 pound-feet of torque. The Volvo VNR Electric features a two-speed Volvo I-Shift transmission designed to deliver smooth acceleration and low-speed maneuverability.

Models are offered in three configurations:

  • Single-axle straight truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 33,200 pounds.
  • Two tractor configurations — a 4x2 with a 66,000-pound GVWR and a 6x2 with an up to 82,000-pound GCWR in specific applications.

The trucks come with onboard telematics including remote diagnostics, and a new real-time battery monitoring service by Volvo Trucks Uptime Center with access to experts available 24/7 who can manage service, schedule repairs and handle other issues that happen on the road. The trucks also have lane departure warning technology.

Earlier this year, the Volvo VNR Electric model was certified by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board, enabling the vehicle to be commercially sold in all 50 of the U.S. states.

In October, VTNA reported it received $21.7 million in federal and state grants to deploy 70 VNR Electric trucks over the next two years in Southern California for regional freight distribution and drayage.

One Volvo Group dealership executive told TT he appreciates the strategic approach VTNA is following.

“Volvo Group has an actual living, breathing action plan to bring trucks to market,” said David Kriete, CEO of Kriete Group. The chain’s nine truck dealerships are in Wisconsin and offer models from VTNA, Mack Trucks, Hino and Fuso.

“It’s pretty clear that the electric segment is expected to grow into a major portion of annual production in the future,” Kriete said. “We are ready to offer and support this endeavor.”

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