Earlier this Fall, Volvo made some of their own history by accepting the largest order of their fully-electric Class 8 trucks. The order totaled 16 of Volvo’s VNR Electric Class 8 trucks, and they will be delivered to a subsidiary of Maersk. The shipping and intermodal giant plans on using the battery electric trucks to haul regional loads across Southern California.
Maersk has taken a strong approach to achieving net-zero emissions, and the purchase of the Volvo battery electrics is a small part of their overall plan to develop a sustainable supply chain. In Southern California – an area that suffers from high levels of air pollution – the electric units will likely be welcome by locals for their lack of tailpipe emissions and quieter powertrains.
Volvo hopes to deliver the Class 8 electrics by the end of 2021. They will be operated specifically by Performance Team, which is a company owned by Maersk. An experienced 3PL service provider, Performance Team has a history of operating in an environmentally-sustainable manner, and in 2019 was named a G75 Green Supply Chain Partner.
The roll-out of battery electric Class 8 trucks is demonstrating that industry – or at least segments of the industry – is willing to invest in the technology where it is feasible to do so. Regional haulers in temperate climates like Southern California will be better-positioned to adopt alternative technologies, and will serve as proving grounds while the technology grows and expands into more challenging climates and terrains.
California’s strict emissions laws are also another reason why local haulers may be incentivised to adopt electric technology. Since there is no engine that must idle at any point in a battery electric truck, it is easier to comply with emissions reduction rules; the hub model of many regional haulers also allows for convenient between-shift charging systems that can keep the fleet charged and ready to go.