Volvo recently introduced its VNR Electric Class 8 truck, which might be a good companion for the Tesla Semi on North American roads. The Volvo VNR Electric is equipped with a 264kWh battery pack with an operating range of up to 150 miles, depending on the configuration of the truck. The all-electric Volvo heavy-duty truck can also charge up to 80% in 70 minutes.
The Volvo VNR Electric comes in three configurations.
- Single-axle straight truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 33,300lbs.
- A 4×2 two tractor configuration with a 66,000-lb. gross combination weight raising (GCWR)
- A 6×2 two tractor configuration with up to 82,000-lb. GCWR for certain applications.
“The Volvo VNR Electric marks a significant step forward for electromobility in an industry that we are committed to leading as it undergoes rapid, significant change,” said the President of Volvo Trucks North America Peter Voorhoeve. “Volvo Trucks believes and invests in sustainable electromobility. Our deep understanding of the transportation ecosystem—the technology, infrastructure and applications in the trucking industry—have enabled us to deliver a solution that is both advanced yet easy to own and operate.”
The Tesla Semi was unveiled with 300 and 500 miles of range, depending on the variant, three years ago. Since 2017, Tesla has worked on battery improvements which could increase the Semi’s range. Elon Musk hinted as much during his online appearance at the European Battery Conference.
“Getting a range of 500 km is I think, quite easy. And this is assuming a truck that is pulling a load of something in the order of 40 metric tons. So that’s a heavy truck. For long-range trucking, up to, we think, easily 800 kilometers, and we see a path over time, to get to about 1,000 kilometers of range. We think this is going to be extremely competitive and compelling to trucking companies,” Musk said at the conference.
There is clearly a range gap between Tesla and Volvo’s all-electric Class 8 trucks, but each may find its own niche in an electrified trucking market. On its official website, the legacy automaker specified that the Volvo VNR Electric would be build for local or regional distribution, pickup and delivery, as well as food and beverage distribution.
Based on Volvo’s description, the VNR Electric aims to target city-to-city or more localized deliveries, which fits with its current range capacity. Meanwhile, the Tesla Semi seems more suited to take on long-haul drives, like state-to-state deliveries.