If the outside world ever wanted an indication of the sort of corporate turmoil occurring in the heavy truck industry then here’s another great example. There’s been a recent flurry of joint ventures and partnerships between Europe’s major truck players all based around the transition we are making from diesel to either or both electric and hydrogen fuel cell.
Two becomes three
Most road transport operators are aware of the hydrogen fuel cell partnership that Daimler Trucks and Volvo trucks have instigated to help develop this alternative fuel system come to market over the coming years but the electrification of the heavy truck industry is a different matter. Indeed the TRATON GROUP have already indicated they do not see hydrogen fuel cell as the main propulsion system for their truck range but would rather use electric due to comparative efficiency with hydrogen fuel cell, their words not mine!
Again as with hydrogen fuel cell, infrastructure is the key to the successful adoption of electric and it is with his background that the three leading commercial vehicle manufacturers Daimler Truck, the TRATON GROUP and Volvo Group have signed a non-binding agreement to install and operate a high-performance public charging network for battery electric heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches across Europe. Their aim is to initiate and accelerate the build-up of a charging infrastructure network to gain customer confidence and to support the EU’s transformation to climate-neutral transportation.
The press release quotes a recent industry report calling for up to 15,000 high-performance public and destination charging points no later than 2025, and up to 50,000 high-performance charging points no later than 2030. Therefore, the kick-start of the partners is a call for action to all other industry players, as well as governments and regulators, to work together for a rapid expansion of the necessary charging network to be able to contribute to reaching the climate targets. As a clear signal towards all stakeholders, the charging network of the three parties will be open and accessible to all commercial vehicles in Europe, regardless of brand.
Martin Daum, CEO Daimler Truck: “It is the joint aim of Europe’s truck manufacturers to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. However, it is vital that building up the right infrastructure goes hand in hand with putting CO2-neutral trucks on the road. Together with the TRATON GROUP and Volvo Group, we are therefore very excited to take this pioneering step to establish a high-performance charging network across Europe.”
The Joint Venture
The agreement lays the foundation of a future joint venture (JV) – equally owned by the three parties, planning to start operations in 2022. The parties intend to invest together 500 million Euros to install and operate at least 1,700 high-performance green energy charging points close to highways as well as at logistic and destination points, within five years from the establishment of the JV. The number of charging points is with time intended to be increased significantly by seeking additional partners as well as public funding. The future JV is planned to operate under its own corporate identity and be based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The future JV will be able to build on the broad experience and knowledge of its founding partners in heavy-duty trucking.
Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and the TRATON GROUP will own equal shares in the planned JV, but continue to be competitors in all other areas and the creation of the JV is subject to regulatory and other approvals and should be signed off by the end of year.
Matthias Gründler, CEO TRATON GROUP: “For the TRATON GROUP, it is clear that the future of transport is electric. This requires the rapid development of publicly accessible charging points, especially for long-distance heavy-duty transport. We are now moving forward together with our partners Daimler Truck and Volvo Group to make this high-performance network a reality as quickly as possible. We now make the first step to accelerate the transition towards sustainable, fossil free transport. The second step should be a strong engagement of the EU for the full scale-up of a charging network across Europe.”
The future JV will act as catalyst and enabler for realizing the European Union’s Green Deal for a carbon-neutral freight transportation by 2050 – both by providing the necessary infrastructure and targeting for green energy at the charging points. The joint action of Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and the TRATON GROUP addresses the urgent need for a high-performance charging network to support truck operators with their transition to CO2-neutral transport solutions, especially in heavy-duty long-distance trucking. High-performance charging infrastructure enabling long-haul trucking is a cost-efficient way towards significant, fast-to-realize emission reductions.
Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO Volvo Group: “We are laying the necessary foundation in making a break-through for our customers to make the transformation to electrification by creating a European charging network leader. We have powerful electromobility technologies, and now, with Daimler Truck, the TRATON GROUP and thanks to the European Green Deal, also an industry-wide understanding as well as a political environment to make fundamental progress towards sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions.”
Customer centric approach taking different applications into consideration
By focusing on customers’ needs, different applications will be taken into consideration. Battery electric vehicle fleet operators will be able to leverage both fast charging tailored to the 45-minute mandatory rest period in Europe focusing on long-distance transport – the highest priority of the future JV – and also charge overnight.