Electromobility is Coming

In the near term, significant technology changes will continue to be stifled by battery and charging infrastructure limitations, but electrification is inevitable.

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The Internet of Things & Connectivity

How do you see the Internet of Things shaping the direction of the heavy-duty vehicle markets?

In general, I think the positive impact of the Internet of Things is similar in construction to other industries. However, the benefits may well be higher in construction because our machines are often operating in remote locations – so things like diagnostics and prognostics become even more important to secure uptime when you’re miles away from the nearest workshop.

The Future of Diesel

Any expectation for significant shifts in diesel engine technology or expectations in the near term?

In the short and medium term, combustion engines will still dominate and many places in the world will depend on diesel power for a long time. However, in certain markets, regions and cities we can expect to see shifts over the next few years. At Volvo CE, we have long-term plans to develop products and services for electromobility, including electric hybrids and electric sites. The electrification of construction equipment will produce cleaner, quieter and more efficient machines – this represents the future of the industry. We believe that there will be a major shift towards electromobility in the future.

Where do you see diesel playing a role in heavy-duty applications in the long run?

I think it will be a long time before diesel can be replaced completely. For example, if a new city is being built or a machine needs to work deep in the desert, the necessary infrastructure won’t exist to support fully-electric machines. It’s these kinds of situations where diesel may still be needed in the future.

Hybrids & Electrification 

What technological limitations currently exist that are impeding the ability to harness the full potential of hybrid power systems? 

Great strides are being made towards electrification but there are still two major challenges to overcome: battery capacity and charging infrastructure. However, we are currently in a period of exponential technology growth and there are rapid developments being made with battery solutions. Volvo CE predicts that this industry shift will move at a faster pace than others have done in the past.

Is the future fully electric, or will there always be a need for engine/hydraulic supplementary power?

I think it will depend on where in the world you are. Larger cities will probably ban combustion engines so in the future we will see fully-electric construction sites. Some local authorities have already implemented initiatives stating that low emission machines should be used on certain job sites. However, in some areas the necessary infrastructure won’t be in place to support fully-electric machines. Therefore, you might need a generator, powered by a diesel engine, to recharge the batteries. Electromobility isn't a hype, it’s coming, but exactly how and when remains to be seen.