On a recent demonstration day, the full electric range from Volvo was on display and available for some limited test drives, PowerTorque went along to see what’s new from the Swedish truck maker.
It is clear that Volvo are aiming to be seen as the leaders of the drive towards zero emission trucks in Australia. The brand has long identified itself as environmentally responsible, and the drive towards electric trucks is another string, and a very important string, to that bow.
There is, of course an inevitability about the move towards the zero carbon truck and all truck makers are going to get there, at some point. The point for Volvo is to be seen as a pace setter and leader in the seismic changes which are happening throughout industries, but are very apparent in the trucking industry.
Last year, Volvo previewed the heavy duty electric models in the FM and FH ranges, showed them at the IAA event in Hanover and were the first brand to have a full range of trucks on offer with an electric powertrain.
Now that full range of trucks have arrived on our shores and are in the introduction stage where Volvo will try them out in specific roles and then evaluate the final specifications of the final trucks destined to go on sale in Australia.
The offering from Volvo is now complete, with the FL and FE being joined by the electric FM, FMX and FH. The medium duty and light heavy FL and FE have been here for some time, but the larger heavy duty models were brought into the country in anticipation of the decision, now made by the Federal Government, to allow low carbon emission trucks to run out to 2.55 metres in width and with higher front axle masses available on a trial basis.
The sums involved in developing these trucks is astronomical, therefore it was not a good idea to expect the truck makers to then take these astronomical funds and add to them by making a special adaptation to bring the width in from the 2.55m used in Europe, for the few thousand trucks which do come into Australia, just in order to make them inside keep them inside Australia’s 2.5m limit.
After some strongly worded lobbying by the truck makers to politicians where a lot of pressure was brought to bear, especially by the truck manufacturers who actually assemble their vehicles in this country, the government finally got on board and we do have a 2.55m width allowance on new zero emission trucks
The second major issue is going to be front axle mass. We saw the long drawn out process which finally gave us 6.5 tonnes on the front axle as opposed to the previous six tonnes, when moving to lower emissions, from Euro 2 to Euro 3.
When electric motors and batteries are brought into the picture or hydrogen storage tanks, even a small jump up to seven tonnes is probably not going to get us anywhere. 7.5 tonnes is the the minimum with which the truck industry says it could cope, as it goes forward in trying to provide trucks powered by electric or hydrogen for the Australian market.