I just saw news that Volta Trucks was rolling its Volta Zero through Spain for show & tell, and it seemed like I’d been seeing a number of announcements from the startup lately, so I dug through its recent press releases. There was more there than I realized, and the news basically fell into a few different buckets.

Volta Show & Tell

First of all, there were some tours around a couple of major European countries — Spain and France. These are part of Volta’s broader “Volta Zero European Tour.” It’s as you would expect, but fun and important nonetheless — Volta is meeting with potential customers to show them the Volta Zero. Before the arrival in Spain this week, the Volta Zero was in France, where Volta says it hosted “more than 300 individual vehicle demonstrations” in the past 5 weeks.

In the virtual world, a few weeks ago, Volta Trucks launched a new and improved website.

Volta Zero Powertrain

Then there’s the powertrain news. Volta announced it had chosen Meritor as its supplier for an “innovative electric axle” the eAxle. “This agreement is a major milestone that will allow the delivery of Volta Zero vehicles for customer testing in 2021, with the start of series production expected approximately 12 months later,” wrote in February.

“The Volta Zero will be the first fully electric large utility vehicle in Europe to use the eAxle, an innovative electric axle to drive the rear wheels. Meritor will supply the complete unit containing the electric motor, transmission and rear axle of the Volta Zero, fitted with the integrated Blue HorizionTM 14XeTM ePowertrain electric motor. The fully integrated, all-electric 14Xe powertrain for commercial and heavy-duty vehicles is lighter and more efficient than a conventional electric motor and axle, resulting in increased vehicle range. It also has the advantage of freeing up space between the cross members of the chassis, thus providing the safest possible location to house the vehicle’s batteries.”

You can also read an interview with the chief engineer of the Volta Zero powertrain here.

It was also announced last month that Volta would be getting the battery for its electric trucks from Proterra. Interestingly, this is Proterra’s first foray into Europe, solely focused on the United States and Canada before this. “The Volta Zero is the first 100% electric 16 tonne vehicle specially designed for the delivery of goods in city centers,” Volta writes. “This important contract completes the strategic supply of the electric powertrain of Volta Trucks. Customer testing of Volta Zero vehicles is scheduled as early as this year, and tens of thousands of trucks are expected to hit the roads soon after the start of series production scheduled for 12 months later.”

“The battery provided by Proterra will give the Volta Zero a range of 200 km on a single charge. This capacity is more than sufficient for most city center delivery vehicles, which operate most of the time in slow traffic and traffic jams. Proterra battery packs deliver excellent energy density and offer a customizable design that allows the Volta Zero’s battery to be placed between the chassis cross members — the most secure location in terms of design.”

Proterra battery pack assembly in Los Angeles, California. Image courtesy of Proterra.

“The Proterra battery is designed to withstand over 4000 recharge cycles over 10 years, without significant degradation, to ensure vehicle longevity.”

Volta Customer Partnerships

Then there are all the “partnerships.” Basically, a handful of companies (or more than a handful) have agreed to test out the Volta Zero in initial pilot programs and potentially buy many more if things go as advertised.

This includes Urby, “a subsidiary of the La Poste group and the Banque des Territoires,” Urby is a French company, so it probably got picked up on that show & tell tour noted above. “Established in 19 French cities, Urby offers solutions for urban delivery and collection of goods, as well as storage and collection of waste and packaging.”

It has also partnered with Swoopin, a “global provider of sustainable transportation and urban logistics services” that will trial the Volta Zero in France, Belgium, and Italy in 2021. “We have been working to make all our delivery operations green for the past six years. Thanks to Volta Trucks, we are now able to apply our strategy to this final segment of our internal strategy. The Volta Zero will feed our 60 urban hubs across France, Belgium, and Italy on a daily basis for our e-commerce activities. We will finally be able to provide efficient and green next-day delivery to nearly anyone in Europe,” said Nicolas Spielmann, Chief Operations Officer of Swoopin.

In January, Volta trucks partnered with F&G Transport, a pallet distribution operator, to have it try out fully electric pallet distribution. F&G Transport wants to transition its full fleet into electric vehicles, and this is one of its first notable steps in that direction. This follows transitioning 80% of the forklift trucks to battery power and going 100% renewables for its energy supply. But this is the company first step with regards to fully electric commercial vehicles. Kudos to Volta for nabbing the contract. Clearly, Volta is doing a good job with both marketing and impressing potential customers with the Volta Zero.

“We found the Volta Zero Pioneer Programme ideally suited to our needs for our pallet distribution network specifically for safety, distance, and weight capacities,” said Emma Lindsley, Managing Director of F&G Transport. “We are excited for the trials to start and our hope is that the shared vision of Volta Trucks and F&G Transport will be highly successful and lead to a partnership that will see us achieve our target of replacing the entire fleet to full electrification as quickly as possible.”

Also in January, Volta Trucks partnered with Belux-based VPD Transport and Logistics. Continuing a trend, VPD is an established logistics company that will be taking its first steps into heavy-duty commercial electric transport with Volta. “VPD Transport and Logistics already operates over 100 vehicles, from trucks to Cargo Bikes, but the Volta Zero is the first full-electric large commercial vehicle to enter its operations,” the company wrote.

“With over 50 years of experience, and more than 150 employees, VPD Transport and Logistics provides store pick-up and fulfillment services to household names such as IKEA, Media Markt, Whirlpool, Haier, EasyKit and Meubella. Its multi-hub network has operations in Ghent, Antwerp, Luik, Zellik, Zonhoven and Luxemburg.”

As I said, Volta is on a roll.

Further, in January, Volta completed a $20 million fundraiser with New York investor Luxor Capital Group LP, and it reached a combined order book of $260 million.

All images courtesy of Volta Trucks unless otherwise stated.

 

 


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