Duncan Forrester, chief communications officer of Volta Trucks, details the journey of this fully electric commercial vehicle company and outlines Volta’s vision for decarbonizing logistics all over the world.
The future may be electric, but for Volta Trucks, the time for change is now. With government goals in place for the end of the decade, 2035, 2040 and 2050, the roadmap for decarbonization and electrification is clear, but Volta Trucks has created its own timeline, as it looks to transform the industry of inner-city deliveries to make city centre streets safer, healthier and more pleasant for all.
“Volta Trucks was set up by our founder in 2019 following a realisation of a number of facts that go back to the launch of the Tesla Model 3 in 2016,” explained Duncan Forrester, chief communications officer of Volta Trucks. “At that point he looked around and realised that Tesla had taken hundreds of thousands of orders and passenger cars were becoming electric and yet, in the commercial vehicle space, there was nothing really going on.
“What he also realised is that if you look at last mile logistics and vehicles travelling around in city centres, that’s really the source of most of the air quality problems that people experience in city centres. Also, that a battery electric vehicle had the range to deliver what was needed for a last mile inner city urban logistic vehicle, but that if he completely redesigned that vehicle without the legacy of an internal combustion engine but with the compact electric drivetrain that was now available, you could completely redesign that vehicle from the ground up.”
Three years after its launch, Volta Trucks is gearing up to release its flagship ‘Volta Zero’, the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne vehicle. From its zero-emission powertrain to its wealth of safety features, which include a central seating position and glass house-style cab design, the Volta Zero has so far proved popular with prospective customers.
Speaking on the Everything EV Podcast, Forrester said: “To date, it has delivered us around about 6000 pre-orders, which has got a value of about €1.3 billion of all pre-order value. Parallel to that, our engineering teams’ started work on the development of the real vehicle and that work started in January 2021. In the tail end of 2021, we showed the final design of the vehicle and that then lead into the development of 25 road going prototype vehicles that are now built and are doing all of the testing that you would normally expect.”
He added: “In my own experience, having worked on many, many vehicle projects before in many different manufacturers, the normal timeline of development of a vehicle from first design through to the first production vehicle is somewhere between five and seven years. As for us, that will be about 24 months, which is unheard of in this industry, but it really gives us sort of an indication of the sorts of pace that we’re working at.”
The future is certainly bright for Volta Trucks, and whilst the company has its sights firmly set on making immediate changes, its plan for the future is also crystal clear, as Forrester explained.
“From what we know today we will have a portfolio of four fully electric vehicles operating in numerous city centres around Europe, US and by that time probably Asia as well,” he said. “What we will be doing is making an enormous positive contribution to society. Our city centres will be so safer because trucks will be operating around those streets and not having the detrimental effect on pedestrians and cyclists around them. Air quality will have been improved enormously because of the removal of diesel engine vehicles from the streets.”