As early as July, Volta Trucks released some specs and rendered images of the upcoming Zero electric truck,media reported. Now, the start-up has unveiled its first prototype, which is expected to begin testing next year and enter full production in 2022. Designed to meet the needs of inner-city parcel transport and freight carriers, this 16-ton electric truck has a top speed of 90km/h, a battery pack size of 160-200kWh and can travel up to 200 km/h on a charge.
In addition, it provides 37.3 cubic metres of storage space with a payload of 8.6 tons.
The driver sits in a swivel chair in the middle of the cab, about 1.8 metres lower than a conventional truck, which is said to make eye contact easier for the driver and those around the truck. The touch-enabled central display helps drivers control lighting, navigation, route planning, air conditioning, communications and entertainment, while providing a 220-degree view of the driver through large windows to optimize visibility and reduce blind spots, and it also achieves Transport for London’s five-star Direct Vision Standard rating.
The rear-view camera can be used instead of the traditional rear-view mirror, a 360-degree camera also provides the driver with a full angle, and an object detection system deployed on both sides of the car lets the driver know when another car, pedestrian or other road user may be hiding in a blind spot. Sliding doors on both sides of the cabin provide quick access to busy or narrow streets.
Volta is committed to installing the latest driver assistance systems, including features such as road sign recognition, reversing cameras, lane change assist and lane departure warnings, and active steering systems. Fleet operators will also be able to use artificial intelligence-assisted monitoring systems to help vehicles travel longer on the road.
The start-up is reported to be the first all-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe to use electronic shaft technology. Electric motors, transmissions and axles are contained in a lightweight and efficient single unit, while the lithium iron phosphate battery pack is located between chassis tracks, which will be modular, allowing Volta to tailor the truck to the specific needs of the operator.
Exterior panelling, some cab interior trim and body panels are made of linen fibers and biodegradable resins. The linen fabric, developed by Swiss company Bcomp in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is said to be hard and mildly comparable to carbon fiber, but produces 75% less carbon dioxide. The fabric is combined with resin extracted from rapeseed oil by BAMD UK to form a panelling. Volta says the combination of a composite body panel and a metal space frame cab structure provides the same collision and safety performance as conventional truck materials.
The 9,460 x 3,470 x 2,550 mm Zero can also be equipped with a refrigeration unit without changing size, which is also driven by the same battery as the drive system.
“Commercial vehicles are the lifeblood of urban commerce and livelihoods, but today’s large trucks are dangerously taking over our streets and surroundings,” said Rob Fowler, Volta CEO. Volta Trucks is redefining the concept of large commercial vehicles and how they operate and integrate in zero-emission towns and cities of the future. This may be the three pillars that define Volta Trucks as a business as well as Volta Zeor – safety, sustainability and electrification, in addition to our unique truck service proposition that reimagines the fleet manager’s business model. At Volta Trucks, we contribute directly to the future of electrification. “
Volta said it had received orders from early customers who planned to begin prototype testing with “some of Europe’s largest package delivery and logistics companies” in the first half of 2021, with the first cars expected to go offline in the UK the following year.
Although no specific price is mentioned, Volta estimates that the total cost of a zero-energy car will be the same as that of a diesel-powered truck, since zero-energy vehicles use 90 percent fewer mechanical components than equivalent internal combustion engine cars.