While Eskom’s struggle to keep the lights on in South Africa puts a sort of damper on the possibility of the wide-scale introduction of electric powered trucks into our market, three of the world largest truck groups – Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and the TRATON Group – have completed the final step in forming the previously announced joint venture for to roll-out of charging infrastructure in Europe.
The new joint venture is expected to have a significant role in supporting the European Union’s Green Deal for carbon-neutral freight transportation by 2050.
As announced last year, the joint venture (JV) plans to install and operate at least 1 700 high-performance green energy charge points on – and close to – highways as well as at logistics hubs across Europe. The parties are committing to invest EUR500-million in total, which is assumed to be by far the largest charging infrastructure investment in the European heavy-duty truck industry to date.
The JV intends to take a catalysing role as a charge point operator (CPO) in the value-chain by installing and managing charging stations for heavy-duty trucks and coaches. It will be a self-standing legal entity, operating under its own corporate identity and based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
With a strong customer-driven approach focusing on transport operators’ specific needs, the JV will provide reliable and accessible high-performance charging stations for all battery electric heavy-duty vehicle fleet operators.
This kick-start is a call to action to all other industry players, as well as governments and policymakers, to work together for a rapid expansion of the necessary charging network as well as investing in renewable energy in order to reach Europe’s climate targets. As a clear signal to all stakeholders, the charging network initiated by the three parties will be open and accessible to all heavy commercial vehicles in Europe, regardless of brand.
Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of the Volvo Group has this to say of the venture: “This is a long-awaited and major step towards achieving the required charging infrastructure for the roll-out and success of battery-electric long-haul trucks and coaches. We are making what would be impossible for one actor alone to accomplish. This strong partnership is a significant milestone and accelerator towards carbon neutral transport in Europe by 2050.”
Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Truck is equally enthusiastic saying: “We’re very excited to kick off this new joint venture together with our partners. It is crucial that we are now taking the initiative for building up the much-needed charging network. Still, we call on the entire industry to join in our effort. The number of charge points has to increase significantly as fast as possible to make electric long-haul trucking a viable solution for our customers.”
Christian Levin, CEO of the TRATON Group says: “To find the best solutions for the climate challenge is our most urgent priority as an industry and as the TRATON GROUP. When we talk to customers about electric trucks, they always ask: where can we charge? To support as fast as possible, we are teaming up on kick-starting the European charging network.”
The JV team will work quickly to scale up operations and network deployment to provide reliable and convenient public charging for heavy-duty vehicles. As the demand for battery electric trucks and coaches is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, the team will work collaboratively across industries to design and build charging solutions that match the needs of transport companies and drivers.
And how far down the line is South Africa on battery electric trucks? Well, I was going to highlight some thoughts but I have to quickly end this before my laptop konks out. Eskom load shedding kicked in just over an hour ago and my laptop is now running low on battery power – and my cell phone is also down to 5% power – and my generator is in for a service. As for my electric truck? Yeah sure. Dream on…