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Volvo wants fewer trucks in urban rush-hour traffic

Volvo Trucks has announced it will start selling electric trucks in Europe, to drastically reduce noise and exhaust emissions, and open up new ways to manage logistics.

According to Volvo, this will allow more transport assignments to be carried out at night, leaving fewer trucks to competing for road space during rush-hour.

The company said, the first units will be put into operation with selected reference customers as early as this year, but they hope to be fully operational in 2019.

“Electromobility is fully in line with Volvo Trucks’ long term commitment for sustainable urban development and zero emissions”, said Claes Nilsson, President, 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 centres.

“Transport may also take place throughout less busy periods, for example in late evening and at night. This will reduce the burden on the roads during daytime rush-hour traffic, allowing both the road network and vehicles to be utilised far more effectively than today,” added Nilsson.

Whats the motivation

A recent project, Off Peak City Distribution, conducted by Stockholm City, Sweden and 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, transport assignments were carried out in one-third of the normal time.

Baring this in mind, Volvo decided, in order to improve the quality of life in urban environments, more sustainable transport solutions need to be adopted.

“With well-developed logistics and more effective utilisation of roads in the evenings and at night, it is possible for many smaller vehicles to be replaced by fewer, but larger, vehicles since a distribution truck has just over ten times the load capacity of a regular van,” said Jonas Odermalm, Head of Product Strategy for Medium Duty Vehicles, Volvo Trucks.

“If a larger proportion of transport assignments could be carried out during hours when fewer people are on the road, it will significantly reduce emissions, traffic congestion, and the risk of accidents.”

Odermalm noted that Volvo is at an advantage because their technology and know-how within electromobility are based on proven commercial solutions already in use on Volvo’s electric buses, and solutions that were introduced in Volvo’s hybrid trucks as far back as 2010.

He said, the vehicles themselves are only one part of what is needed for large-scale electrification to succeed.

“Enabling long-term sustainable transport is a complex issue that requires a holistic and wide range of measures. We are working closely with customers, cities, suppliers of charging infrastructure, and other key stakeholders to create the necessary framework for electrical trucks,” said Odermalm.

Nilsson concluded and said Volvo believes in full electrification for urban distribution as a first step. He added however, that the company was working with electrification for other transport applications, and this was just only the tip of the iceberg.

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