Volta Begins On-Road Testing for BEV Truck

On-road testing has begun in the UK of Volta Trucks’ heavy duty BEV truck.engineering Evaluation and development testing of the first prototype Volta Zero has begun at HORIBA MIRA testing facility in Nuneaton.

The vehicle was recently unveiled claiming to be the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-ton commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner city logistics. Affectionately dubbed ‘Volta Minus One’ by development engineers as the forerunner to the production-specification Volta Zero, the prototype vehicle uses the proposed production specification chassis frame and drivetrain of the finished vehicle and will test all the electro-mechanical and thermal properties of the truck. This includes the high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra and the compact rear axle, electric motor and transmission eAxle unit from Meritor.

The pared-down bodywork of the prototype is designed to protect the development driver from the elements when the vehicle is moving at speed. The production vehicle will feature a cargo box design but the prototype uses a flatbed to allow engineers to add different levels and locations of loads to test its weight-carrying capacity.

The test and development program with this and later-specification prototypes also includes periods of cold weather testing north of the Arctic Circle and hot weather testing in southern Europe. Assessed results will be taken into the production of Pilot Fleet vehicles that will be tested and evaluated by key customers who have signed up for both testing and the option to purchase series production trucks. This is designed to develop their understanding of how the Volta Zero will integrate into their operations. Full-scale production of customer-specification vehicles should then follow at the end of 2022.

Volta are effectively in a race with Mercedes-Benz and its eActros all-electric truck unveiled in July. This is planned to roll off the production line in Wörth am Rhein in Germany from autumn 2021. It will be equipped with either three or four battery packs, each with an energy capacity of around 105 kWh. The maximum battery capacity of 420 kWh claims a maximum range between charges of 248 miles.

Its drive unit features a rigid electric axle with two integrated electric motors and a two-speed transmission. Both liquid-cooled motors claim a continuous output of 438bhp as well as a top performance of 530bhp.  Naturally, it also employs energy regeneration during braking.

Chief product officer of Volta Trucks, Ian Collins, said: “The start of testing and evaluation of the first prototype Volta Zero is a major milestone on our journey towards production, and an exciting time for all of the Volta Trucks team and our customers. To have achieved this landmark moment in just eight months is a great example of the nimble and agile approach we have at Volta Trucks. We work at high pace to ensure that we can bring zero emission, full-electric commercial vehicles to market quickly, because our customers require vehicles as soon as possible. We need to go through a comprehensive and thorough development program but the start of prototype testing is evidence that we are on track to deliver production vehicles, on time, by the end of next year.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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