Prodrive’s advanced technology center has partnered with Volta Trucks to develop and engineer a 16-tonne zero-emission pedestrian-friendly HGV. The companies will deliver a demonstrator vehicle by summer 2020 and a fleet of prototypes for trials in London and Paris the following year.
Prodrive has an enviable record in motorsport but, over the last 20 years, the company has diversified into developing products such as an electric-hybrid Ford Transit van and manufacturing advanced lightweight composites for automotive, aerospace and marine applications.
The Volta Truck will address the two main concerns for transporting loads in urban environments in that it will be powered by batteries to reduce diesel emissions, and it will set a new standard in safety to counteract the disproportionately high incidence of fatal accidents involving HGVs, pedestrians and cyclists. For example, the driver will be positioned centrally and lower down for a better view of the road, and cameras rather than conventional mirrors will eliminate blind spots.
The cabs will be manufactured from a composite space-frame and the panels will be made from natural fibers rather than expensive carbon fiber. Volta has brought designers Astheimer in to develop the concept, Conjure to design the human/machine interface, and Prodrive to provide engineering know-how for the chassis, cab and electrical systems. After the first demonstrators are wheeled out, Prodrive will hand full-scale production over to a main supplier so that the company can meet its target of delivering 2,000 units per year.
“Trucks face two major issues in an urban environment. Not only are diesel engines rapidly becoming unacceptable but the category is disproportionately represented in accidents involving death and injuries among pedestrians and cyclists. Volta Trucks has taken the design opportunity provided by the switch to electrification to re-imagine the layout of a conventional truck and address emissions and safety concerns simultaneously,” explained Steve Price, project leader at Prodrive.
Carl-Magnus Norden, founder and CEO of Volta Trucks, added, “With a successful record of producing demonstrator and fleet-trial vehicles, coupled with many years’ experience working with EV powertrains, we felt Prodrive was a natural partner that was big enough to assemble a multi-skilled team quickly, yet small enough to retain the agility needed when introducing new technology. Its independence from established suppliers is also a valuable asset in ensuring all engineering decisions are completely impartial.”