VTNA Announces Pair of Groundbreaking Orders, Autonomous Tech

May 9, 2022

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Volvo Trucks North America customers NFI Industries and Quality Custom Distribution (QCD) are both increasing their investments in electromobility solutions with their latest orders of a total of 90 Volvo VNR Electric trucks. The battery-electric freight trucks will be deployed in NFI’s Ontario, California, fleet and QCD’s Southern California fleet operations throughout 2022 and 2023.

“Volvo Trucks is proud to continue partnering with NFI on its electromobility journey as the company truly demonstrates its leadership and commitment to supply chain sustainability,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “It is exciting to see QCD continue to grow its Volvo VNR Electric fleet so that the company can service some of the nation’s most iconic restaurants with zero-tailpipe emission trucks.”

NFI started its electromobility journey with Volvo Trucks as part of the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project that began in 2019. NFI started piloting two Volvo VNR Electric trucks in its commercial operations, demonstrating the ability for battery-electric trucks to reliably transport goods under a variety of operating conditions.

“Our experience with the Volvo LIGHTS project was a major factor in NFI’s decision to purchase VNR Electric trucks for our drayage operations,” said Bill Bliem, senior vice president of fleet services at NFI. “NFI started our electrification transition because we are committed to sustainability initiatives across our operations, and we are continuing to invest in Volvo Trucks because of the proven viability and success we have had operating the Volvo VNR Electrics in our real-world routes.”

Each year, QCD’s fleet of 700 Class 8 tractors makes more than one million last-mile deliveries from its 26 distribution centers across the U.S., averaging more than 35 million miles on the road annually. The company’s investment in Volvo VNR Electric, which now includes 45 trucks, is a central part of its strategy to help its customers reduce their supply chain emissions.

“QCD has gained incredible firsthand insight into the real-world performance of battery-electric trucks during the past year while operating a Volvo VNR Electric truck as part of the Volvo LIGHTS project,” said Shane Blanchette, senior director of operations, QCD. “We now have the experience needed to map out the ideal routes to integrate additional battery-electric trucks, and we’ll use this knowledge as we deploy the additional 44 Volvo VNR Electrics from our distribution centers in Fontana and La Puente, California.”

The 60 trucks ordered by NFI are the next generation enhanced Volvo VNR Electric model with a six-battery-pack configuration, which provides an operational range of up to 275 miles. Twenty of the trucks will be deployed as part of the Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative, or JETSI project; 30 will be deployed with funding support from California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP); and the last 10 are part of the SWITCH-ON project, a grant to Volvo Trucks to deploy battery-electric trucks in Southern California for regional freight distribution and drayage.

With the deployment of the 30 additional Volvo VNR Electrics, QCD is expanding its zero-tailpipe emission fleet to operate from a second distribution center in La Puente, California. QCD received funding for the 30 Volvo VNR Electrics through the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) Last Mile Freight Program, established in partnership with MSRC.

The infrastructure to support NFI’s zero‐emission fleet is being developed by Electrify America as part of the announcement made with NFI at ACT Expo 2021 to build the nation’s largest heavy-duty electric truck charging infrastructure project. The project will provide 19 350 kW ultra-fast chargers with 38 dispensers to support NFI’s growing battery-electric drayage fleet that serves the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

To further bolster the environmental and economic benefits of the project, as well as increase resiliency, QCD has partnered with Scale Microgrid Solutions to build a first-of-its-kind clean energy microgrid to power its La Puente’s battery-electric fleet and distribution center. InCharge Energy will supply and maintain fast charging stations utilizing onsite renewable energy generated by a microgrid developed by Scale Microgrid Solutions to support QCD’s growing Volvo VNR Electric fleet.

Voorhoeve also discussed the company’s Volvo Autonomous Solutions, spotlighting the progress that has been made through its partnership with Aurora to jointly develop on-highway autonomous trucks in the U.S. The Volvo Trucks booth showcased a Volvo Autonomous Solutions VNL 760 with an integrated Aurora Driver for future hub-to-hub operations, representing an important step towards launching fully autonomous Class 8 trucks commercially in North America.

Volvo Trucks also announced the release of Volvo LIGHTS Lessons Learned Guidebook. The Volvo LIGHTS project partners project played an integral role in helping to transform goods movement, as they worked together to design a blueprint to introduce zero-tailpipe emission battery-electric trucks and equipment into the market at scale. During the project, which ran from 2019 to 2022, the partners demonstrated innovations critical for the commercial success of battery-electric freight movement, which have been refined into a number of key insights for the Lessons Learned Guidebook.