Volvo Trucks talks electric truck service, Daimler/Volvo JV and more

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You got an overview of Volvo’s decarbonization efforts, both diesel and electric, in our exclusive interview with Peter Voorhoeve, President of Volvo Trucks North America. But Peter and I have spent much of our time together in the weeds, talking about the smallest details of early electric truck users, service and ownership models of electric vehicles, and the unique Volvo and Daimler joint venture. , cellcentric, among other topics. I couldn’t fit all that into the first story. Instead, I compiled all outtakes.

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So here is Voorhoeve on…

Purchase and maintenance of electric trucks.

“We are seeing tremendous interest from customers [considering electric trucks], but we also find that the decision to buy an electric truck is slower than with conventional diesel,” Voorhoeve said. “It’s new, there are a lot of stakeholders involved, and it’s a completely different setup. A lot of companies go through a whole process of: Is this really where we want to go? If so, how do we do it?”

Before electric truck orders opened, there were discussions in the industry about how the new powertrain might impact the ownership model, but Voorhoeve was unwavering.

“The customer still buys the truck,” he said firmly, “but there’s a higher level of cooperation to get it started, then to build it, and then to maintain it. We have regular phone calls with customers.

The long-term service needs of an electric truck are still a question mark, but some fleets expect much longer life cycles compared to diesel trucks. As for the ongoing support noted by Voorhoeve, Volvo’s VNR Electric comes with its Gold Contract service offering which includes scheduled and preventative maintenance, towing and vehicle repair, including lithium-ion batteries from the vehicle and the complete electromobility system.

The long-term service needs of an electric truck are still a question mark.

“It’s a six-year contract,” Voorhoeve said when asked about the expected life cycles of electric trucks. Volvo Trucks is committed to standing by its customers, as Voorhoeve highlighted the huge investments that are being made in the company’s dealerships to provide a high level of service for its VNR electric trucks.

“The dealership plays a very important role,” Voorhoeve pointed out. “You can’t just start doing maintenance on electric trucks. You must be certified for this. Our dealers will be certified to be able to sell and service electric trucks. A certified Volvo Electric Vehicle dealership means your sales staff and technicians are trained and certified in all the health and safety regulations we have as they deal with high voltage batteries.

What the Daimler, Volvo, cellcentric joint venture means for Volvo Trucks North America.

“It’s a separate company, in a separate building, with separate management, separate ownership,” Voorhoeve explained. “What they’re doing is they’re developing fuel cell technology. This fuel cell technology is then later used by Daimler in its products and by Volvo in our products. We do it our way, and they do it their way.

Voorhoeve compared it to components from similar vendors that are built into various OEM nameplate diesel trucks.

“Then the electric drivetrain, let’s not forget, makes the difference,” he said. “You have a fuel cell that generates electricity, which goes into a battery, and then from the battery, it goes into the transmission.”

How will this influence Volvo Trucks North America?

“At the Volvo Group, we are a global company. We are developing technology that is used around the world across all of our brands,” Voorhoeve said. “For example, the driveline we have in our VNR Electric is a driveline that we started developing here, then it was developed in Europe, then it came back here. And it will be the same with the development of fuel cell electricity. It will be developed in a joint venture that will be used by the various brands.

Meeting fleet needs while managing uncertainty.

“What I’ve always wanted to do, and I don’t think it’s changed in the many, many years I’ve been in the industry, is exceed customer expectations. It may sound boring,” he said with a good-natured laugh, “but I want my customers to be excited about the products we deliver and the service we provide. Which, by the way, over the past 18 months have only grown in importance; with all the supply chain challenges we have, it becomes more important.

“Two years ago, there were a lot of things that were certain that are no longer certain because of the very particular situation in which the whole industry and the whole world finds itself. So finally, I go every day to my job and I say, ‘What can I do to make my clients feel like we’re taking care of them and exceeding their expectations?’ And that’s regardless of technology and all that.

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