ElectricDrives takes a look at the rapid progress of Volta Trucks with their Volta Zero all-electric truck

Volta Trucks have worked with the best in the business to create a battery electric vehicle that will help to create sustainable cities of the future 

By
Ian Osborne
October 15, 2021
Category:
EV Biz

Volta Trucks, a leading and disruptive all-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer and services provider, who are developing the Volta Zero electric truck, have done so at an industry-leading pace. We have followed their journey closely since the launch of the first demonstrator vehicle last year.  

Here we take a look at their story over the last year or so in their journey to becoming an important component in helping to create cleaner more sustainable cities.  

Manufacturing Process

The progress since the first demonstrator vehicle, which was created by Prodrive in September 2020, has been nothing short of impressive. By June 2021, Volta Trucks had their first running all-electric Volta Zero prototype chassis.  

Fast forward to August 2021 and Volta Trucks started their engineering evaluation and development testing at Horiba Mira, which is an automotive engineering and development consultancy based in Nuneaton, UK. Here, the prototype has been physically put through its paces.

Volta Trucks are keeping up the development pace and the journey continues from start-up to scale-up. The first production vehicles come ever closer with the design verification stage. The first all-electric Volta Zero production vehicles will roll out at the end of this year for prototype testing.  

As part of the testing process, the Volta Zero will head off to Finland for extensive cold-weather testing. It will enter the comprehensive engineering test phase of the design verification prototypes against all operational scenarios.

These vehicles will also be used by a select group of Volta’s customers. This is to ensure the vehicles are performing in a way that Volta’s customers need them to perform in real-world scenarios.  

Volta Trucks have selected Proterra, a leading innovator in commercial vehicle electrification technology, as the battery supplier for the Volta Zero. The Proterra-supplied battery will give the Volta Zero a real-world range of 124 miles (200km) from a single charge.  

This distance is more than enough for inner-city logistics and distribution vehicles that spend most of their operating time in slow-moving start/stop traffic. The Proterra battery pack delivers industry-leading energy density and features a customisable design. This allows the battery in the Volta Zero to be located between the chassis rails, which is the safest possible location for the design.

The manufacturing journey will enter the pre-production phase as Volta Trucks moves into its product verification mode. These vehicles will be ready by the middle of 2022 and will be the closest to full production specification of all the prototypes.

These final pre-production stage vehicles will be passed on to customers to integrate into their operations. This will allow them to understand how a 16-tonne battery electric vehicle (BEV) works within their day-to-day operations.  

These Volta Zero vehicles will be with customers for up to a month to test against quality, longevity and durability in terms of operating in a fleet scenario.  

By the end of 2022, Volta will achieve a major milestone when they start manufacturing the production models. These will be built at Volta’s facility in Steyr, Austria, which was formerly a flagship factory for bus and truck producer MAN.

Having a production facility that is ready to go, with advanced manufacturing that is located centrally in Europe, is perfect for Volta because this is their principal initial market. This will minimise the sustainability footprint of supply for the brand.  

Safety

Safety has been a key feature of the new Volta Zero and the company aims to be the safest large commercial vehicle manufacturer on the market. Without the need for a traditional combustion engine, this has allowed Volta Trucks to think about things differently.

With the lack of an upfront internal combustion engine, the extra space allows the operator to sit in a central driving position with a far lower seat height than a traditional truck. This positioning, combined with a glass house-style cab, gives the driver a 220-degree field of vision helping to minimise blind spots.

Truck as a Service (TaaS)

Once trucks roll off the production line they will enter Volta Trucks’ new Truck as a Service (TaaS) ecosystem. This is a complete fleet-side offer to provide operators with a complete management package. This service revolutionises the ownership, financing and servicing of commercial vehicle fleets.

As part of this package, Volta Trucks are working with several partners including Siemens for charging. Plus, they are collaborating with several financing and insurance institutions. Volta Trucks will be looking after the maintenance side itself, with after-sales facilities in the cities that Volta will be operating in.

Customers

Volta has no shortage of customers for its zero-emissions all-electric Volta Zero. They have more than 2,500 pre-orders already and this is growing weekly. Not bad for a new company that only showed the world its first demonstrator vehicle just over a year ago.  

Volta Trucks have major orders from many businesses in the logistic world. This includes significant players like French truck rental company, Petit Forestier, who ordered 1,000 Volta Zero trucks, through to a recent order from Gruber, a European distribution company, for 30 vehicles.  

Volta Trucks’ customers are taking sustainability and the net zero agenda increasingly seriously. More and more boardrooms and fleet managers are engaging with the sustainability agenda and the zero-emissions vehicles that support it. As a result of this, Volta Trucks are increasingly seen as a leading iconic brand in the shift to sustainable mobility.

Investment Rounds

The Volta Trucks journey has attracted strong investor support with a Series A at $20 million. This was followed by Series B at $42 million. The company is mapping out potential shareholders and the next investment round.  

Volta Trucks is now looking to the future with a significant new investment round to deliver its roadmap to zero emissions freight and logistics.

Personnel

All this could not have been achieved without a world-class team. Volta Trucks’ headcount is already at 150 people after just 18 months. A world-class team delivering a world-class product, at pace, meeting the need to bring zero-emission vehicles.

Recently, the company announced it is expanding its UK-based research and development (R&D) capabilities. As a result, the electric vehicle (EV) company has a growing number of jobs available. Volta Trucks' ambition is to have more than 280 employees by the end of 2021.

Conclusion

Volta Trucks is making multiple material advances as it brings the Volta Zero electric truck ever closer to customers. Operating with the speed that the climate and clean air crisis necessitates, Volta’s investors, people and customers, are powering an unprecedented rate of development for a company that natively understands the importance of battery electric vehicles in helping to create sustainable cities, worldwide.

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