Volvo to redefine urban logistics with nocturnal electric truck deliveries

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Volvo Trucks has announced it will start selling electric trucks in Europe in 2019. The first units will be put into operation with select customers later this year, with the technology able to create new sustainable urban logistics models.

Electric trucks drastically reduce noise and exhaust emissions and open up new opportunities to manage city logistics, with more deliveries carried out at night, resulting in fewer trucks competing for road space during rush hours.

A recent project in Sweden, ‘Off Peak City Distribution’, conducted by Stockholm City Council and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, studied the effects of goods transport at night in central Stockholm. Since the trucks avoided having to operate in rush-hour traffic, deliveries were carried out in one-third of the normal time.

Volvo says that in order to improve the quality of life in urban environments, more sustainable transport solutions need to be adopted. With well-developed logistics systems and more effective use of roads in the evenings and at night, it is also possible for many smaller vehicles to be replaced by fewer but larger vehicles, thus further contributing to lower emissions and less traffic.

A distribution truck has just over 10 times the load capacity of a regular van. If a larger proportion of transport assignments could be carried out during hours when fewer people are on the road, this will also significantly reduce the risk of traffic accidents.

“Electromobility is fully in line with Volvo’s long-term commitment for sustainable urban development and zero emissions,” explained Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks. “By using electrically powered and quieter trucks for goods transport in urban areas, we meet several challenges simultaneously.

“Without disturbing noise and exhaust gases, it will be possible to operate in more sensitive city centers. Transport may also take place throughout less busy periods, which will reduce the burden on the roads during daytime rush-hour traffic, allowing both the road network and vehicles to be utilized far more effectively than today. We believe in full electrification for urban distribution as a first step.”

Volvo’s work toward commercialization of electric trucks in North America is also ongoing, as advances in battery technology accelerate viability for the continent’s specific duty cycles and energy demands.

Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America, noted, “Urban distribution and other pick-up and delivery applications are a starting point for battery-powered electric trucks, but we envision broader deployment of electric trucks for freight movement in North America as technologies and the market mature.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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