Volvo Wants to Sell Electric Trucks in North America, Eventually

The company won’t say when it plans to bring them here.

byStephen Edelstein|
Volvo Wants to Sell Electric Trucks in North America, Eventually

Volvo Trucks (a separate entity from the automaker) wants to sell electric trucks in North America, but isn't ready to commit to a firm timeline. 

A company press release noted that Volvo will begin delivering electric trucks to select European customers later this year, but gave no specific launch date for North America.

But Volvo does want to sell electric trucks on this side of the Atlantic. Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America, said electric trucks will not only reduce emissions, but their lack of noise will increase flexibility for operators. Electric trucks will be able to operate in "more sensitive city centers," Nyberg said, as well as operate more frequently at night, when the roads are less crowded. He said Volvo will take a multi-step approach to launching the vehicles.

"Urban distribution and other pickup and delivery applications are a starting point for battery-powered electric trucks," Nyberg said, "But we envision broader deployment of electric trucks for freight movement in North America as technologies and the market mature." The approach echoes that of Daimler, which is starting out with smaller electric delivery vehicles rather than long-haul semi trucks. Yet even that will require coordination with other parties.

"Electric vehicles will be part of our future, but the vehicles themselves are only part of what is needed for large-scale electrification to succeed," Volvo Trucks North America vice president for product planning Keith Brandis said. Electric trucks will require a "holistic and wide range of measures," he said, which will involve cooperation with "cities, suppliers of batteries and charging infrastructure, and other key stakeholders."

Volvo's announcement may have been light on details, but it's acknowledgment of the need to develop electric trucks is another indication that the trucking industry will respond faster to the rise of electrification than the auto industry did. While luxury automakers are just beginning to counter the Tesla Model S, truck manufacturers appear ready for the arrival of Tesla's electric semi truck. Volvo, Daimler, and Volkswagen are planning electric commercial trucks, and Navistar expects to be selling more electric trucks than Tesla by 2025.