Volvo AB will start producing electric versions of its brawny trash haulers starting with Europe, with cities from Hamburg to Gothenburg to Zurich already signed up to buy. Volvo says it expects its two new electric models, which can be used for a variety of heavy-duty urban jobs, to do well because they’re emissions-free and much quieter than diesels, whose engines fire up when they lift a dumpster.

Surprisingly, these hulking trucks offer some compelling advantages for electrification. Garbage vans typically follow regular daily routes that rarely exceed 60 miles (97 kilometers), easing range concerns. And with frequent stops, they return energy to the battery each time the driver hits the brakes. “We believe this technology can be a large contributor to reducing emissions,“ said Anna Thorden, product manager for electric mobility at Volvo Trucks. “Electric trucks are beneficial for drivers, cities and the global climate.“

While diesel remains the most popular fuel source for trucks, ahead of natural gas, it faces restrictions that will likely boost demand for battery-powered vehicles, said Nikolas Soulopoulos, an auto analyst at BloombergNEF. City centers are becoming increasingly hostile environments for combustion vehicles. Paris, Madrid, and Hamburg have already introduced limited bans on older diesel cars, and Barcelona, London and Rome plan to keep them out altogether by the end of this decade. “For these kind of jobs, electrification has a real potential,” Soulopoulos said. “Cities are worried about air pollution and are making it much more expensive for diesel trucks to come in.”

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Author: Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg
Photo: Volvo AB