Volta Trucks, the start-up electric vehicle manufacturer, has revealed the new Volta Zero – its first vehicle and the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner-city parcel and freight distribution. From launch, the Volta Zero will be a significant contributor to the future vision of zero-emission cities all over the world.
The Volta Zero will start undertaking operator trials with some of Europe’s largest parcel delivery and logistics companies in H1-2021. Orders have already been taken from companies wanting to secure the first customer-specification vehicles, which are due to be delivered when production starts in 2022.
“Commercial vehicles form the lifeblood of commerce and livelihoods in cities, but today’s large trucks dangerously impose themselves on our streets and dominate their surroundings,” said Rob Fowler, Chief Executive Officer of Volta Trucks.
“With the launch of the Volta Zero, we are changing the face of road transport. Volta Trucks is redefining the perception of the large commercial vehicle, and how it operates in and integrates with, the zero-emission towns and cities of the future. This is made possible by the three pillars that define both Volta Trucks as a business and the Volta Zero – safety, sustainability, and electrification. Add to that our unique Truck as a Service proposition that reimagines a fleet manager’s business model. At Volta Trucks, we are directly contributing to society’s migration towards an electrified future.”
Added Carl-Magnus Norden, Founder of Volta Trucks: “Safety is at the heart of the Volta brand for one simple reason. In London, as an example, 23% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist deaths involve an HGV, yet large trucks only account for 4% of road miles. This is clearly unacceptable and must change. The Volta Zero completely reimagines the commercial vehicle, ensuring it can operate safely with all road users and become a friend of the zero-emission city.”
The removal of the traditional internal combustion engine enabled the designers and engineers of the Volta Zero to completely rethink how a truck has always been designed. The driver of a Volta Zero has a wide 220-degrees of direct vision around the vehicle. This panoramic view of the surroundings through a glasshouse-style cab is designed to deliver a Transport for London five-star Direct Vision Standard rating for optimum visibility and the reduction of blind spots.
The protection of vulnerable road users is also enhanced by the use of rear-view cameras that replace traditional mirrors, a 360-degree birds-eye camera showing the driver their complete surroundings, and blind-sport warning systems that detect objects down the sides of the vehicle.
The driver of a Volta Zero sits far lower than in a conventional truck, with their eye-line at around 1.8 meters. This mirrors the height of pedestrians and other road users nearby for easy visual communication between the driver and others around.
Safety and comfort for the driver have been optimised by minimising cognitive overload. The design of the cabin is contemporary, spacious, and light, with intuitive user interfaces. The central display conveys critical information while touch screens on each side are used for lights, climate control, navigation and trip planning, communication, and in-cab media. A natural pallet of colours, materials, and finishes give a comfortable yet elegant interior that will appeal to a wide demographic of potential drivers. With the Volta Zero, Volta Trucks is changing the experience and workspace for drivers, offering them an environment more akin to a premium car than today’s perception of a traditional commercial vehicle.
To aid ingress and egress, the removal of the internal combustion means the driver sits in a central driving position with a swivel seat. They have easy access through fast opening sliding doors on either side of the cabin to enter or exit either side of the vehicle into the busy or narrow streets.
The Volta Zero will offer the latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS electronic systems help driving, safety, manoeuvring, and parking, and make a significant contribution to the safe operation of larger vehicles.
The driver of a Volta Zero will benefit from technologies such as Active Steering, Road Sign Assist, and Reversing Assistant with reversing camera, ensuring they have the latest safety support systems when operating in the confines of the city centre. While on the move, Lane Change Assist and Lane Departure Warning systems ensure that the truck operates as safely as possible. The vehicle’s operator also benefits from a technical status monitoring system, based on artificial intelligence, that avoids breakdowns and maximises the uptime of the vehicle.
The Volta Zero will be the first road vehicle to use a sustainably sourced natural Flax material and biodegradable resin in the construction of exterior body panels, with the cab’s dark body panels and many interior trims constructed from the natural material. The high-tech Flax weave was developed by Volta’s world-leading supplier, Bcomp of Switzerland, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, and is currently used in 16 of the world’s most competitive motor racing series.
The Flax weave is reinforced with Bcomp’s patented powerRibs™ grid technology. The result is a fully natural, extremely lightweight, high-performance fibre matting that is almost CO2 neutral over its lifecycle. It also matches the stiffness and weight of carbon fibre but uses 75% less CO2 to produce. The Flax matting is combined with a biodegradable resin by world-class composites manufacturer, Bamd in the UK, to produce the body panels for the Volta Zero. The fully bio-based resin, derived from Rape Seed oil, creates a naturally brown coloured matting and a black natural pigment dye is added to complete its darker, technical appearance.
At the end of their useful life, the Flax composite parts can be burnt within the standard waste management system and used for thermal energy recovery, unlike alternative composite materials that are usually sent to landfill.
Production of the Volta Zero is due to commence in 2022 and investigations are ongoing to secure a contract manufacturing partner to assist with production. Production is anticipated to be in the UK. By the end of 2022, Volta Trucks aims to have built around 500 customer-specification vehicles, rising to 5,000 vehicles a year by 2025, and increasing thereafter.