A Volvo FH Electric commercial truck traveled round trip between Switzerland and Spain to deliver more than 22 tons of oranges, setting a new record in the process for distance traveled by an EV truck. Volvo’s fully-electric big rig drove 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) over the course of seven days — as opposed to the four days that it would’ve taken in a combustion-powered truck — but the remarkable trip spilled nary a drop of diesel, according to Volvo Trucks.
The EV big rig that made the journey belongs to Swiss transport company Krummen Kerzers, which had already been using Volvo’s commercial EVs to reduce carbon emissions. This delivery is the company’s most ambitious yet, going from a warehouse in Küsnacht, Switzerland to Canals, a municipality near Valencia, Spain. It was a round trip, so after the oranges were loaded in Canals by food distributor Casa del Mas, the Volvo had to go back to Switzerland.
It took careful planning to get the EV truck there and back successfully, due to a lack of commercial EV charging stations. The Volvo FH Electric 4X2 has a max range of 300 kilometers (186 miles), so the 3,000-kilometer trip would require at least 10 stops to charge the truck’s 540 kWh battery pack.
To make the trip harder, there’s a 450-kilometer (280-mile) stretch in Spain between Barcelona and Canals where charging stations are scarce. The transport company says it even had diesel trucks on standby, in case the Volvo ran out of charge.
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The FH Electric makes up to 657 horsepower and 1,770 lb-ft of torque. The tractor can haul a payload of up to 25 tons, so while the EV big rig wasn’t fully weighed down by its cargo of oranges, the distance was nonetheless daunting.
That makes it all the more surprising that the trucker from Krummen hadn’t driven an EV truck before the trip. Valentin “Balint” Schnell had never taken one of the fleet’s Volvo FH EVs along regional routes in Switzerland, let alone Spain. But Schnell familiarized himself with the EV and studied the route.
The bold trucker explained to reporters that he ended up making a total of 20 stops and even had to use chargers meant for fully-electric passenger cars since there weren’t commercial EV charging stations along the entire route.
When stations were full, the rate of charge would slow down so much that some stops lasted up to three hours. The EU has stricter rules than the U.S. regarding the amount of rest required on long-distance hauls, and Schnell took advantage of charging wait times to log his mandatory rest. But the trucker says he learned a lot during the eventful journey; the EV truck even caused a traffic jam as people in Spain stopped to stare at the EV from Switzerland while loading.
Schnell and the Volvo nearly broke down before reaching the final charging point; the truck was able to make it to the station, but the trucker said the EV was almost entirely out of energy, adding that “nothing worked in the cabin.” The company was monitoring remotely, however, and managed to help Schnell with advice and guidance to get the Volvo FH Electric to the finish line.
The logistics company claims the trip saved nearly 3 tons of carbon emissions, and it expects similar trips will soon be commonplace. By then, the journey will be much easier; maybe not as easy as refueling in a diesel truck, but also not as tricky as hypermiling in an EV big rig.