The Russian-born businessman and entrepreneur behind Roborace, the world’s first driverless racing championship, has revealed the future of electric trucks by showing the latest model in a range of ‘autonomous-ready’ electric vehicles being developed for sale in 2017.
Denis Sverdlov (below), founder and CEO of technology investment company Kinetik, has unveiled the latest vehicle from his UK-based automotive technology company, Charge. The vehicles are built using revolutionary ultra-lightweight composite materials that significantly reduce the weight of the vehicle, and by combining this technology with Charge’s custom-built hardware, including power electronics and motors, they have been able to reduce the cost of operating by more than 50%. In an industry which is driven by price and weight, this could help to transform the highly complex logistics sector, particularly in urban areas with strict vehicle emissions regulations.
All vehicles receive wireless ‘over-the-air’ software updates like a smartphone, and are ‘autonomous-ready’; they are built to comply with future driverless regulations and ready at the push of a button. The Charge trucks also produce zero emissions for the first 100 miles (161km) they travel; for longer journeys a dual mode can be used to ‘top up’ the battery and extend the range to 500 miles (805km). Charge develops trucks in a range of sizes from 3.5 to 26 tonnes. Charge’s trucks will also meet new EV legislation globally, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s new ‘Direct Vision Standard’ for trucks, helping to make London’s streets significantly safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
The design simplicity is reflected in the ease of assembly; Sverdlov claims it will take one person just four hours to build an entire Charge truck. This would mean that just 10 men, over two shifts a day, could assemble 10,000 trucks a year. As Charge scales operations globally, this will allow them to serve the huge demand. The first of many new factories will open in 2017 near the company’s current HQ in Oxfordshire, where the first Charge trucks were designed and built.
The company is also working closely with the Roborace driverless electric racing series, developing key components such as the power electronics and motors for the Robocar, which is already setting new benchmarks in driverless, electric development history. Earlier this year, Charge became the official electric truck partner of the existing Formula E race series, using its prototype truck for the driver parade and logistics on and off the tracks, which are built on city streets. The company says the partnership helps to further improve final design and production for the vehicles.
“We find trucks today totally unacceptable. At Charge we are making trucks the way they should be: affordable, elegant, quiet, clean and safe,” explained Sverdlov. “We are removing all the barriers to entry for electric vehicles by pricing them in line with conventional trucks, giving every fleet manager, tradesman or company, no matter how big or small, the opportunity to change the way they transport goods and make our towns and cities better places to live in.”