Even with its 100th anniversary approaching, there is nothing that feels outdated about Volvo Trucks. As the company continues to reinvent itself, following the trends and demands of society, it is forcing its competitors in the same – more sustainable – direction.
With the Paris agreement directing us to come up with new ways of doing everyday things – such as traveling, eating, and socialising – companies that are not changing with the world around them risk being left behind. This is especially true for the vehicle industry, as a growing number of countries are using restrictions and regulations in their pursuit of diesel-free streets.
Volvo Trucks understood early the importance of using these new directions to be innovative, instead of resisting them. The company is no stranger to the concept of climate care. In the last decades, Volvo Trucks has reduced emission of air pollutants from new trucks by 90% and decreased fuel consumption and climate impact by 40%. Now, with its electric models Volvo FE and FL, and with the recent launch of three new electric truck models, the company is taking a leading position on the European market.
“We recently announced the start of sales of the Volvo FH, FM and FMX – alongside the existing Volvo FE and FL electric models. Plus, in North America, the VNR Electric is being offered. This is currently the most complete commercial electric truck range in the industry,” says Christian Coolsaet, Managing Director, Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland.
But Volvo Trucks is not only a strong force on the broader European market. With more than 50 years in the market, the business is now well established in the UK, where it continues to break new ground. “The UK is a major market for Volvo Trucks, supporting the sale of around 5,000 new medium and heavy-duty trucks into the market each year, backed by a nationwide main dealer network of 79 locations across UK and Ireland, each responsible for supporting customers with truck sales, repair and maintenance, as well as replacement parts.”
The UK – a fruitful market
According to Christian Coolsaet, the UK is an especially lucrative market – not least for Swedish businesses. With the large number of English speakers in Sweden, and good possibilities to export between the countries, there is great potential regardless of the industry. “The UK has many key industries, and one of the world’s largest international and connected financial centres, providing great access to global markets. With more than 80% of adults in Sweden speaking English, and great transport links between our two countries, the UK is also a prime export market for Swedish businesses.”
And in the case of electric trucks and vehicles, there is great potential in the UK. In a country where a large portion of the vehicle fleet is involved in last mile deliveries, simply replacing diesel with more sustainable fuels would have a big impact on emissions.
“By switching from diesel to electric in these applications, we could achieve some of the biggest environmental gains – and quickly. Take the Volvo FL Electric we delivered to DHL Supply Chain in London last November as an example. It offers the perfect solution for urban logistics, allowing DHL to make deliveries in densely populated inner-city locations where air quality and noise pollution challenges are at their highest.”
From the city to the country
Having already seen the potential of electrical vehicles in urban areas, the next step for Volvo Trucks is to look for opportunities outside of the urban context. The advantages seen when operating in city centres could be just as important when it comes to long-distance transport – something Christian hopes will be realised in the not too distant future.
“Looking further ahead, even long-distance heavy transport will be able to be completed with electric vehicles. To meet these challenging demands for both high load capacity and a much longer range, we plan to use hydrogen fuel cells to generate the electricity. This technology is developing rapidly, and our aim is to start selling fuel-cell electric trucks in the second part of this decade.”
"The UK has many key industries, and one of the world’s largest international and connected financial centres, providing great access to global markets."
The trucks of tomorrow
There are many benefits of these new types of trucks. According to Christian, the total climate footprint during a lifecycle is nearly six times lower for an electric truck than for a diesel truck. With the aspect of sustainability often at the forefront, it is easy to miss other advantages, such as noise reduction, meaning the trucks can be used at times and locations where traditional trucks are not allowed.
“Low levels of CO2, particle emissions and noise make it possible to transport goods in zero emission zones and at times when trucks with traditional drivelines could not normally be used. This can allow for more and faster deliveries in one shift. Combined with the lack of exhaust fumes, this leads to better working conditions for drivers and a lower environmental impact. In addition, goods can be delivered inside buildings.”
A greener truck industry
With the advantages that come with electrical trucks, it is likely that more companies will follow the same path as Volvo Trucks. This means that the decisions that Volvo Trucks is making today could drive other companies in a similar, more sustainable, direction.
“More and more transport companies are realising they need to start their electrification journey right now, both with the environment in mind and for competitive reasons to satisfy customer requirements for sustainable transport. With our wide range of electric trucks, it is totally feasible for far more transport companies to make the switch and go electric.”
Christian predicts a bright future for Volvo Trucks. With both opinion and policy becoming increasingly focused on the environment, there is no doubt that the market will have to do the same. Thanks to its long tradition of environmental awareness, Volvo Trucks is well prepared for the switch. Along with the technological advances coming rapidly, there is great potential for the next generation of trucks to decrease the transportation sector’s impact on the planet. “We have set the ambitious goal to have electric trucks account for at least half of our European sales by 2030 – and we are absolutely committed to meeting this objective.”
About Volvo Trucks
Year of establishment
Sweden: 1928 / Present in the UK
for more than 50 years