Volvo Trucks shares lessons learned from electric truck pilot project

The Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) project, which ran from 2019 to 2022 in the Southern California Coast Airshed, has come to an end.

Volvo Trucks North America, together with 14 public and private partners*, shared lessons learned from the $44.8 million pilot project**, which is expected to help lay the groundwork for successful commercialization of electric freight trucks battery operated.

During the three-year experiment, Volvo Trucks deployed 30 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 semi-trailers in 11 fleets, which traveled more than 250,000 miles (400,000 km). The partners installed 58 charging stations to support daily truck operations in various applications.

Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America, said that through the project, they were to “validate key processes around adoption of Class 8 battery electric trucks for commercial transportation segments and identify challenges that needed to be addressed for widespread market introduction.”

Volvo VNR Electric

Volvo VNR Electric

Volvo VNR Electric

Lessons learned from the project have been compiled in the Volvo LIGHTS Lessons Learned Guidebook (pdf).

Among the conclusions, we noticed some interesting ones – for example “Identifying ideal routes is the key to successful electrification”. Reportedly, the trucks were typically used to haul freight 80 to 150 miles per day, which is within range of the Volvo VNR Electric model. However, the switch to electric vehicles requires looking beyond the battery range figures and ensuring that it will suffice in all conditions.

“Assessing the viability of using electric carts in fleet operations requires looking beyond a battery life figure, especially in our early days, given the state of battery storage systems. energy on board and the lack of charging networks. The range of the trolley can be affected by several factors, such as the length of the route between stops, topography (especially in hilly and mountainous terrain) and weather conditions (in particular, extreme heat or cold) .”

It was also noted to adapt the driving style, which saves energy and maximizes the benefits of regenerative braking (estimated at up to 5-15% more range).

Because range is a crucial factor, Volvo Trucks has developed a special route planning tool that allows fleet managers to simulate real routes. It is important to carefully study the operational details of a fleet and identify which routes and customer applications are best suited for electric trucks.

Of course, a very important element is the charging network – DC fast chargers along the highways as well as depot chargers.

An interesting discovery was to anticipate unforeseen delays to the project, particularly related to the installation of the charging infrastructure. This part must be secured before the truck goes into service.

“One of the most important lessons learned about infrastructure development is the need to anticipate delays in installing charging infrastructure and allow for additional time before the scheduled BEV delivery. Fleets need to start site and equipment planning early to understand their energy needs and develop project infrastructure installation plans.

Charging infrastructure could bring unique new challenges to fleets, such as peak energy demand costs. It is advisable to mitigate these with on-site solar and battery storage.

There are many different ideas listed, but even the few mentioned above indicate that the approach needs to be comprehensive and well-planned, as switching to electric trucks early (without a decent public fast-charging network) is not not a simple purchase.

As the market matures, the process is expected to be easier, but we are not there yet.

* The Volvo LIGHTS project was led by Volvo Group North America and the South Coast California Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD), and included NFI Industries (NFI), Dependable Highway Express (DHE), TEC Equipment, Shell Recharge Solutions (formerly Greenlots), Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Southern California Edison (SCE), CALSTART, University of California, Riverside CE-CERT, Reach Out, Rio Hondo College and San Bernardino Valley College.

**The Volvo LIGHTS project was made possible by a $44.8 million award to South Coast AQMD from CARB through California Climate Investments (CCI), a statewide initiative which is devoting billions of cap-and-trade dollars to reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs), strengthening the economy, and improving both public health and the environment. South Coast AQMD also contributed $4 million from its Clean Fuels Fund. The Volvo Group and its partners contributed $43 million in matching funds for a total project of $91 million.

About Robert Pierson

Check Also

A look at California’s lofty EV goals and their impact on the power grid – Times-Herald

California has ambitious goals for electric vehicles by 2035 while working to keep its electric …