Leading the charge in zero tailpipe emissions solutions
The latest generation VNR Electric features a range of up to 275 miles. Christina Ameigh, Volvo Trucks Electromobility Sales Leader for the US and Canada, talks about the effort to make Class 8 electric trucks a viable solution for fleets.
Q: What was challenging about bringing the VNR Electric to market?
A: “Well, it was a tricky time to launch a new product, but Volvo is super committed to electromobility. It’s not flash in the pan. I’ve been in this business a long time and have seen a lot of technology that has come and gone, but the sheer investment that Volvo has made to this new product is mind blowing.
The supply chain crisis has created some obstacles not just on the truck side but on the infrastructure side, as well. Timing is everything with electric vehicles because you’re taking on a construction project for infrastructure. So, you have to have good planning because you need permits; and you’re working with utility providers on their timeline, and those vary from state to state. In Boise you might need a six-month lead time or in Los Angeles you may need twelve months. You have to time that construction with the production of an electric vehicle and also meet milestones and timelines for government funding, which have expiration dates. The good news is, once a customer goes through that process, it becomes copy and paste as far as re-order of additional electrical vehicles.”
Q: What misperceptions do you have to overcome with customers?
A: “Range anxiety. But also, what people say about the VNR Electric—once they’ve had a chance to try them—is they’re really surprised with the performance. People get the trucks in service, and they have the same look and feel, but they’re super, super quiet. And you can’t hear shifting, which makes driving super smooth. The other thing is, customers have a perception that, well, I have 300 vehicles but only two routes that would work for electric. With this extended range in the next generation vehicles, when you start analyzing routes and payloads, you can often find a few more routes that will work.”
Q: Which parts of the country are most electric vehicle-friendly?
A: “You have to look at both government subsidies and regulations. California has both regulations that push people into electric and the subsidy to offset the cost. Texas isn’t thought of as a particularly green state, but they have a bunch of subsidies available for customers that want to get into electric vehicles. Texas doesn’t have regulations, but if you can package incentives to make it easier for the customer to do, they will more than likely give it a shot. New York and New Jersey fit well. New York provides strong incentives. Almost a dozen states have decent incentives for electric vehicles.”
Q: Why is it important for Volvo to lead the move into electric vehicles?
A: “It’s in keeping with our overall sustainability goals as a company for society. That starts at the very top with our CEO, and it goes all the way down through every part of our organization. We look at it as the right thing to do. On the truck side, most dealers are pretty conservative. They put their business at risk every day when they take a truck deal. This new product might be a little outside their comfort zone. For me to take the lead in helping them through this process is really a privilege. We’ve been on this journey for a long time, and I feel really strongly about the path that we’re on.”
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