Volta Trucks takes a new step to make its Volta Zero electric truck a reality: the Swedish firm has started the real-world testing of the first prototype using production specification components. The 16-tonne cargo hauler prototype is now undergoing on-road evaluations at HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton, UK, ahead of full-scale production slated for December 2022.
The company says the Volta Zero prototype vehicle was developed in the industry-leading time of just eight months from first designs to a running vehicle.
The start of testing follows soon after the reveal of the first prototype chassis of the Volta Zero – a fully electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner-city logistics. Affectionately named ‘Volta Minus One’ by development engineers, the prototype vehicle uses the proposed production specification chassis frame and drivetrain of the finished vehicle. The tests are designed to assess all the electro-mechanical and thermal properties of the truck, including the high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra, and the compact rear axle, electric motor, and transmission eAxle unit from Meritor.
While the production vehicle will feature a cargo box design, the prototype uses a flatbed to allow engineers to add different levels and locations of loads to test its weight-carrying capacity. Also, the unconventional bodywork of the prototype is purely designed to protect the development driver from the elements when the vehicle is moving at speed.
The prototype Volta Zero will continue testing over the coming months. The next phase of prototype testing also includes periods of cold-weather testing in the north of the Arctic Circle and hot weather testing in southern Europe. Volta plans to use what it learns in the testing program in its Pilot Fleet vehicles that will be offered to key customers to carry out testing of their own. Full-scale production of the customer-specification vehicles will then follow at the end of 2022.