Automotive Industry

Volvo’s New Solutions Ease the Transition to Electric for Trucking Fleets

Volvo electric trucks

At Recharge America we like to reflect on the many benefits that accrue when we begin to electrify major areas of the economy. This week we’re celebrating a recent announcement from Volvo that puts those benefits on full display.

Volvo electric trucksVolvo has debuted a program to make fleet conversions to electric a smooth transition for their heavy-duty vehicle customers. As reported this week by Fleet Owner magazine, Volvo’s services are available to all of their North American trucking customers (VTNA).

According to the article, Volvo has partnered with two equipment providers to make EV experts available to any VTNA customers who want to explore their options. Fleet operators will work with representatives from InCharge Energy or Gilbarco Veeder-Root to figure out how much charging they’ll need, how to source and install the equipment, and even the financing for it. VTNA customers will have the ability to choose either sourcing and purchasing the equipment themselves or purchasing charging stations through a VTNA requisition program. Perhaps the most innovative benefit to Volvo’s approach is that they will guarantee charging availability to their customers even while waiting for equipment to be obtained and installed. In other words, because the lead times for heavy-duty EVs and the chargers they require can be long and not in sync with each other, fleets could potentially end up in a situation where they’ve received EV trucks but don’t yet have a way to charge them. VTNA promises to cover that gap.

If you’re reading this and you’re not a heavy-duty fleet operator, you might be thinking “how is this relevant to me?” Fair question. But it’s actually an exciting development in a number of ways:

  1. Medium- and heavy-duty trucking accounts for almost 25% of all the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. Not only that, but these vehicles have gotten significantly less-efficient over time: their emissions are up 78% from 1990 levels. Reducing emissions in this sector would go a long way toward cleaner air for everyone across the country.

  2. Trucks transport about 72% (by weight) of everything that moves around the country. Chances are that whatever you last purchased, ate, wore, or used spent some amount of time being transported on a truck. Trucking touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

  3. The biggest hurdle to EV adoption at any scale — whether it’s a heavy-duty fleet of 100 trucks or a personal vehicle around town — is charging infrastructure. Volvo’s proactive approach to simplifying fleet conversions signals a willingness to find solutions to that hurdle. Solving the problem at such a large scale makes individual, personal adoption seem easy by comparison. And that’s good news for all of us as well.

GM Aspires to Go All-Electric by 2035: What It Means for EV Infrastructure

GM’s recent announcement aiming to offer an all-electric lineup of light-duty vehicles by 2035 is big news. GM is one the top car manufacturers in the world, and other manufacturers are likely to follow suit. The company is allocating $27 billion to support the pivot to electric vehicles. In light of President Biden’s plans to make the federal fleet all-electric by 2035, it suggests that massive EV adoption is just around the corner, not around the block. This is exciting, yes, but also puts some urgent priorities into the spotlight. 

Over the next decade, as we envision EVs becoming increasingly common across our neighborhoods, cities and states some key questions come to mind: Where are the EV chargers? Who doesn’t have access yet to EV chargers yet, and where do they live?  What about our rural

GM plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

communities, where residents must drive further for everyday needs like groceries?  What about our disadvantaged communities, which often have the most to gain from reducing vehicle emissions given that they often live closest to the most dangerous transportation pollution? 

In recent memory, we can recall that the haphazard rollout of the Internet spurred the Digital Divide, where only certain communities had high speed access. With adequate foresight, the EV rollout offers us an opportunity to get it right this time. 

Planning is a critical component of any EV initiative within a business, community, state or region. Whether the objective is a Level 2 charge installation in a business parking lot or a corridor-wide buildout of fast chargers across a state, a few key questions must be addressed. Where is the optimal location? What fees will apply, if any? Will charge stations be accessible to the general public? Multiply questions like these on a national scale and the complexity could quickly threaten to overwhelm steady progress without careful, coordinated planning. Decisions now will have consequences for years to come.

Increasingly, the auto industry is recognizing that the future for transportation is electric, and we can expect other manufacturers to follow GM with strong EV announcements. The Biden Administration is certainly providing leadership, with its pledges to support electric vehicles and EV infrastructure. The progress is welcome given that EVs are terrific for local economies, and everyone stands to benefit from a rapid EV rollout no matter where they live. Getting the coordination right from the  federal level all the way to local businesses and organizations — with  state and local government entities working alongside in helping plan the transition to electric vehicles — will maximize those benefits for the most people.

Kirk Brown is President and CEO of Recharge America