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WDBJ7 EXCLUSIVE: Inside look at Volvo’s VNR Electric Truck and Customer Experience Center

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT
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DUBLIN, Va. (WDBJ) - Volvo’s New River Valley Plant invited WDBJ7 into its facility for the first time since before the pandemic to discuss the production of its new VNR Electric Truck and for a look inside their Customer Experience Center.

Experts shared updates on plans for adding the VNR Electric trucks to their supply chain routes locally and job growth at the manufacturing site.

Customers can also get hands-on and test the truck at their Customer Experience Center. The Volvo Trucks Customer Experience Center is located next to Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley manufacturing plant where the Volvo VNR Electric is assembled.

“They come here with so many questions, and we can give them not only the answers in a classroom environment but also bring them down here to the track and show them the operation of an electric truck,” said Rob Simpson, the director of Volvo Trucks North America’s customer center.

The customer experience is a part of their electromobility showcase, where drivers can learn more about the truck-- even take a test ride.

“What makes the trucks different than what we have today is simply the electric driveline. How you fuel it, and what it does for our customers. So these trucks are specially designed to work in inner-city environments, where there are a lot of traffic conditions,” said John Moore, a senior product manager for electric vehicles at Volvo Trucks North America.

Dozens of trucks are already out on the roads but few have had the chance to drive one.

“When a driver is sitting in the driver’s seat, it’s on, but you don’t feel anything. There’s no vibration from the engine at all. So when they take off we have very smooth acceleration, it only has one shift point versus 12 on another diesel truck,” said Moore.

It can charge up to 80% within 70 minutes, has an operating range of up to 150 miles, and saves energy in traffic.

“What it does is it actually replenishes energy back into the battery system, and that helps increase our range. So it’s important that these vehicles work in duty cycles where they’re starting and stopping more often, and that’s why they’re great for delivery operations in urban operations,” said Moore.

The trucks are built in New River Valley at the largest Volvo Trucks manufacturing plant in the world.

“Right now, we already have the space to build dozens, and we are making sure that the tool is in place to build hundreds a year,” said Franky Marchand, the Vice President and General Manager at Volvo Trucks New River Valley Assembly Operations.

Volvo says the truck may present a few challenges –like cost and the need for more electric infrastructure.

However, the company reports there are special financing and insurance solutions for Volvo VNR Electric as well as charging infrastructure investments through Volvo Financial Services.

Earlier this year, Volvo Trucks also announced multiple funding programs customers can leverage to help make the transition to zero-emission vehicles more cost-effective for their fleet operations.

“Electric truck is, is the future, electric, everything is the future in many fronts, but there is so much to, to provide. And don’t be afraid of it, the technology is there, we will continue to progress, and there won’t be those anxieties of charging in the future,” said Marchand.

Volvo says this is just the beginning-- every generation of the VNR truck will be better.

“It’s in our DNA, so to say that we have set corporate targets for future targets... to meet a completely fossil-free product line... to have that underway and ready to go by the year 2040,” said Moore.

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