Volta Zero: the electric truck that breaks the rules of the electric age

Volta Trucks is a new company that you may not have heard of yet, but it could quickly become a big name in electric transportation.

The Swedish team is pushing ahead with their new 16-tonne electric truck and working to allay concerns around heavy-duty electrification.

Move Electric was recently invited to UTAC Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery near Paris to drive a prototype version of the new Volta Zero truck and learn more about the brand’s ambitions.

Here’s everything you need to know about Volta – and keep an eye out for Move Electric next week for our first try of a Zero prototype.

Alright, tell me all about Volta Trucks…

Where to start with a booming brand that unveiled its first concept truck just two years ago? Volta unveiled its Zero truck in 2020 and since then has been adapting its design at a rapid pace.

Volta forgoes conventional truck design, opting instead to reinvent the Zero from the ground up. For example, the central seating position is one of the most radical features of the Volta, which builds on the company’s safety ambitions with the truck itself.

Earlier this year, Volta built its first prototype model at its factory in Coventry, after which the company began testing its truck in Paris and London. In June, customer trials began with potential buyers given the opportunity to drive a design verification version of the Zero Truck.

How Volta Trucks aims to revolutionize last mile deliveries

And don’t assume the 16-ton vehicle is the end of the line; Volta will bring an 18 tonne version of the truck after the launch of the first model, while a 12 tonne and 7.5 tonne variant will be available before 2024.

Volta’s new truck will be built by Steyr Automotive, formerly MAN Truck and Bus Austria. The company hopes to sell around 22,500 trucks by the end of 2025.

How did Volta get the Zero to market so quickly?

Considering the company only built its first prototype earlier this year, the speed at which Volta brought its new truck to market is commendable. The company aims to start production early next year and already has an order bank of around 6,500 vehicles, representing an order bank value of 1.4 billion euros.

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Volta was not drawn to being totally alone in its quest to provide emission-free last-mile transportation. Rather than designing, building and manufacturing its own batteries and powertrain, Volta partnered with a host of suppliers in order to deliver the truck in a short period of time.

“Speed ​​and scale, as we say, are the most important things, so from the beginning we thought how we can do this as quickly as possible. We believe we have selected reputable suppliers for us help build an ecosystem. As always, we want to have the latest technology, but that also needs to be proven,” said Volta Trucks founder Carl-Magnus Norden.

Co-founder Kjell Waloen added: “The difference between us and Elon Musk with Tesla is that he started when there wasn’t a lot of industry. Now there is an industry and therefore there is no need to develop the battery.

“You have to focus on what you can do to set yourself apart from other companies and that can be done by looking at the whole package and using what’s already there. If you want to develop batteries, you have to start with the battery industry.

The American company Proterra will supply the batteries that are in the central part of the chassis, while Meritor has created an innovative ePowertrain for the Zero truck. The electric motor has a two-speed transmission and drives the rear wheels, eliminating the need for a driveshaft.

Volta has also won over other suppliers with technology company Vodafone offering its services to create an alarm system for the Zero, the truck using telematics systems from US company Sibros.

So what does the Volta Zero look like up close?

First and foremost, the Volta Zero we saw is still a prototype. Although not far from the production appearance, some interior items were missing and the seatbelt sensor thought we hadn’t fastened them. This is normal for a pre-production vehicle.

Still, the Zero made an instant impression, the most notable feature being the center driver’s seat and the entry into the cabin itself. In many ways, it’s like getting on a bus, as the walk in the Zero is almost level with the pavement.

Volta has also forgone conventional doors, opting for sliding doors – one on each side of the cabin – which automatically move to the side by waving a hand over a sensor. This was to reduce the number of accidents that occur when truckers open their doors to oncoming traffic, especially cyclists.

Sit in the passenger seat and Volta’s claims about the Zero’s improved field of vision and greater visibility have been clarified. The greenhouse-style cabin really lets you see it all.

Sure, you can’t see the back of the course, but the 220-degree field of view in front of you is impressive. Visibility is exceptional and from the inside you can see very far – which became clearer when crossing a roundabout on the UTAC urban route. Not only could you see ahead, the exit from the roundabout was also clear.

Visibility is also aided by the fact that the Zero sits lower than a conventional truck, with the driver’s eye line about 1.8 meters away, mirroring the height of pedestrians and other road users. Again, another example of Volta’s desire to optimize security.

Beyond its basic design, the company has implemented many technologies to help the driver in city centers. There are nine cameras positioned around the exterior, with four cameras covering the sides of the truck to act as exterior mirrors. Images from the cameras are displayed on screens inside the cockpit and can be adjusted to the driver’s preferred height.

Inside the Zero there’s plenty of space with plenty of light coming through the huge front widescreen. The user interfaces – which come in the form of two screens on either side of the driver – are close at hand and easy to use thanks to a mix of touchscreen and conventional buttons.

A screen displays range information and truck statistics and allows the driver to adjust the Zero’s air suspension. Meanwhile, the other screen is for navigation and multimedia, the driver can connect his phone.

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