Volvo Trucks and ABB have been involved in a testing programme of electric vehicle batteries in temperatures as low as -32 degrees.
The two companies, along with energy company Vattenfall and mining company Kaunis Iron and Wist Last och Buss, tested to see whether it is possible to replace diesel-powered transport of 14 tonne truckloads of iron ore ‘sludge’ with new electric trucks in an environment where mercury drops to -30 degrees centigrade – and if so, what electrical infrastructure it would require.
The Sweden-based experiment was held in the country’s uppermost region, well within the arctic circle, and lasted four weeks. It involved driving a battery-powered Volvo FMX truck from a base in Junosuando to the mine in Kaunisvaara, and then unloading the cargo in Pitkäjärvi, where the ore was transferred to rail for onward transport to Narvik. The overall trip encompassed 280km of frozen routes, which had until then only ever been navigated with diesel-powered vehicles.
Despite the extreme temperatures, which dipped to lows of -32 degrees centigrade at points, Vattenfall, which lead the experiment, said it exceeded expectations, with the electric truck performing well throughout.
Lino Martino, one of the truck drivers who participated in the test, said: “The electric truck is in many ways equivalent to the one I would usually drive, as it’s the same type of cab, just easier to navigate, with one button to go back and forth.
“This new truck is so quiet, you cannot hear the ‘engine’, even when under heavy loads. And the vibrations are way less noticeable than with a diesel vehicle, so it’s without doubt a more convenient work environment to operate in.”