Volvo Aims To Beat Tesla To The Punch With Its New VNR Electric Semi

The Tesla semi is about to face some tough competition as Volvo Trucks has announced its new VNR Electric will be launched in North America in 2020.

Based on the Volvo VNR, the electric variant is being billed as a regional hauler that is cleaner and quieter than traditional diesel-powered semis.

Volvo didn’t say much about the semi, but it follows in the footsteps of the standard model. However, it has a handful of unique features including an illuminated grille and more aerodynamic bodywork. Speaking of the latter, the truck eschews side-mounted fuel tanks for flat panels which presumably cover the battery pack.

While commercial sales won’t begin until 2020, Volvo Trucks will introduce several demonstration units next year. The company is staying tight-lipped on specifics, but said the demonstration units will use an electric powertrain that is based on the “proven propulsion and energy storage technology currently being used in the Volvo FE Electric.”

The FE Electric will go on sale in Europe next year and it has been designed for city distribution and garbage transport operations. While trash haulers aren’t very exciting, the FE Electric has a 200–300 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which powers two electric motors that develop up to 496 hp (370 kW / 503 PS) and 626 lb-ft (850 Nm) of torque.

This setup enables the FE Electric to travel up to 200 km (124 miles) on a single charge. When the battery is depleted, it can be recharged in as little as 1.5 hours with a 150 kW CCS2 charger.

In statement, Volvo Trucks North America director of product marketing said “The Volvo VNR is ideal for applications like heavy urban distribution, drayage and other regional applications where electric trucks will first have the greatest impact.” Johan Agebrand went on to say “The VNR series has received tremendous industry acceptance since its April 2017 introduction and the addition of an all-electric powertrain provides even greater opportunities to expand its footprint in the regional-haul market.”


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  • Mr. EP9

    City distribution and garbage duty huh? That’s perfect. Now long haul trucks is another matter. Personally, I’m betting on the Nikola One but we’ll see.

    • Short distance battery electric is perfect. Long haul hydrogen-powered is perfect. Bring it on!

  • COOL.

  • Marty

    Why does an electric vehicle need a long nose like that?
    Is it just because some markets don’t understand it’s a truck if it hasn’t got a huge nose?

    • GrahamIam

      In the united states, trucks have to be longer to meet regulations on axle weight. Which is why you don’t see cab-over-engine semis in the states. In Europe, they have thicker roads, but length restrictions on trucks. That’s why you only see cab-over-engine semis there.

  • Ben

    What I don’t understand is why car enthusiast get hyped about electric and/or autonomous trucks. They’re still slow, eat the traffic light and throw rocks that chip paint/crack your windshield.

    • Tostik

      We need more trains, and fewer trucks.

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