Volvo Trucks announced on Thursday it has finally kicked off serial production of heavy battery electric trucks up to 44 tons in its Ghent factory in Belgium. That is Volvo Trucks’ largest production site with a yearly capacity of around 45 000 trucks.
The electric trucks are assembled on the same platform and line as the diesel and gas-powered trucks in a production set-up that gives the factory a high flexibility when it comes to handling different variants and demands, the company states in a press release.
Largest in truck builder’s network
“I´m thrilled! The Ghent factory is the largest one in our network, so this is a very important milestone. Now even more transport companies can go electric with Volvo,” says Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks.
Swedish truck builder Volvo Trucks started in 2022 series production of the fully electric range of its popular heavy trucks, the Volvo FH, Volvo FM, and Volvo FMX, in the Tuve factory in Gothenburg, Sweden, and was prepping its Ghent (Belgium) factory to follow the next year.
Ghent will play a significant role in the group’s electrification, including battery manufacturing, as announced at that time in Ghent. By 2030, more than half of the 50 000 trucks that will be built in Ghent by then will be battery-electric (BET). Electric and hydrogen trucks will be mixed on the same production lines as diesel trucks.
The Tuve factory in Sweden was already the third place Volvo started assembling electric trucks. First out was Blainville in France, where Volvo began to build electric trucks for refuse handling and city distribution in 2019. One year later, the New River Valley, US site commenced serial production of the VNR Electric, designed for regional transport.
Making battery packs since 2022
In Ghent, where Volvo Trucks employs some 3 000 people today, battery packs are already assembled since 2022 for the electric trucks made in Sweden. The cells come from Samsung SDI in South Korea for now, but in the future, Volvo Trucks plans to start its own cell production in Skövde (Sweden), where it is to build a dedicated factory that should be fully operational by 2025.
Volvo Trucks says it has taken orders, including letters of intent to buy, for around 6 000 electric trucks in 42 countries on six continents. “Just a few years ago, many thought it was impossible to electrify heavy truck transport. But we decided early on that electrification is our main path to zero emissions. Now we can offer an industry-leading range of purpose-built electric trucks in commercial operation worldwide,” says Roger Alm.
Demand rapidly increasing
Volvo Trucks says the three conventional truck models represent around two-thirds of the company’s sales today. And the demand for electric trucks is rapidly increasing in many markets. One driving force is the need for transport buyers to shift to fossil-free transport to meet their sustainability goals.
Battery electric trucks (BET) are expected to outperform classic diesel trucks with an internal combustion engine (ICE) from 2025 onward in the total cost of ownership (TCO). Fuel cell trucks (FCT) are to reach that point in 2030, while the cost advantage for the battery-electric truck will be 26 to 34%, a study by PwC published in October 2022 shows.