Volta Trucks has confirmed the start of engineering evaluation and development testing of the first prototype Volta Zero at HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton, UK. The start of testing follows soon after the reveal of the first prototype chassis of the Volta Zero – the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner city logistics.
The first running Volta Zero prototype chassis has been designed and built using the proposed production specification frame and drivetrain components of the finished vehicle, and will be able to drive at normal road speeds. It includes a high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra, and compact rear axle, electric motor and transmission eAxle unit from Meritor. The Volta Zero will be Europe’s first commercial vehicle to use an innovative eAxle for increased efficiency and vehicle range.
Affectionately named ‘Volta Minus One’ by development engineers, as the forerunner to the production-specification Volta Zero, the prototype vehicle uses the proposed production specification chassis frame and drivetrain of the finished vehicle and will test all the electromechanical and thermal properties of the truck. 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 production vehicle will feature a cargo box design, but the prototype uses a flatbed to allow engineers to add different levels and locations of loads to test its weight carrying capacity.
The prototype Volta Zero will continue testing at HORIBA MIRA over the coming months. The forthcoming test and development program with this and later-specification prototypes also includes periods of cold weather testing north of the Arctic Circle, and hot weather testing in southern Europe. The comprehensive program will ensure that the production-specification Volta Zero vehicles deliver the durability and reliability expected by fleet operators and vehicle owners.
These learnings will be taken into the production of Pilot Fleet vehicles that will be tested and evaluated by key customers who have signed up for both testing and the option to purchase series production trucks. This is designed to develop their understanding of how the Volta Zero will integrate into their operations. Full-scale production of customer-specification vehicles will then follow at the end of 2022.
Chief Product Officer of Volta Trucks, Ian Collins, said, “The start of testing and evaluation of the first prototype Volta Zero is a major milestone on our journey towards production, and an exciting time for all of the Volta Trucks team and our customers. To have achieved this landmark moment in just 8 months is a great example of the nimble and agile approach we have at Volta Trucks. We work at high pace to ensure that we can bring zero emission, full-electric commercial vehicles to market quickly, because our customers require vehicles as soon as possible. We need to go through a comprehensive and thorough development program, but the start of prototype testing is evidence that we are on track to deliver production vehicles, on time, by the end of next year.”