Swedish Volvo Group, the parent company behind Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks, and Renault Trucks, has been selected as the winning bidder in an auction for the battery assets of Californian public transit bus and electric commercial vehicles specialist Proterra, which has been in a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy process since August.
The deal, worth $210 million and still subject to approval by the US bankruptcy court, gives the Swedish truck giant access to a battery module and pack development center in California and an assembly factory in South Carolina. Volvo expects the deal to close in the first quarter of 2024.
Battery systems for Daimler Truck
Proterra Powered’s plant in Greer, South Carolina, started in 2022 manufacturing battery systems for its customers’ electric vehicles, including delivery and work trucks, industrial equipment, and buses.
Proterra continued supplying battery packs to Volvo rival Daimler Truck North America, a Proterra investor and parent company to Thomas Built Buses and Freightliner trucks. Nikola and its former European partner Iveco are also battery customers for BETs and fuel cell trucks.
What will happen to those contracts after the take-over by Volvo Group is not clear yet. Volvo told US media it plans no immediate changes to Proterra Powered, but “at this stage, it is too early to comment on any current or future business”. For Swedish EV truck start-up Volta, another customer of Proterra, the fall of its battery supplier triggered its own bankruptcy in its home country.
Factories in 18 countries
Volvo Group, employing some 120 000 people, has factories in 18 countries and runs one of its giant truck factories, the New River Valley plant, in Dublin (Virginia). This plant is the exclusive producer of Volvo trucks in North America, building Volvo VNL and VNR Series highway tractors and Volvo VHD™ trucks with 2 975 people.
Volvo Trucks in Ghent (Belgium) is the group’s largest production site in Europe, with a yearly capacity of around 45 000 trucks. In September, it announced it finally kicked off serial production of heavy battery electric trucks up to 44 tons.
First electric trucks in France
The first Volvo plant to build electric (Renault) trucks was Blainville in France in 2019, where it makes trucks for refuse handling and city distribution. One year later, the New River Valley, US site commenced serial production of the VNR Electric, designed for regional transport.
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 built in Ghent will be battery-electric (BET). Electric and hydrogen trucks will be mixed on the same production lines as diesel trucks.