Looming bans on diesel vehicles in European cities such as Paris have helped Volta Trucks win a record order for electric lorries.
The Swedish company has struck a deal to sell 1,500 trucks to German logistics firm DB Schenker, which will start using them next year at a list price of about €200,000 (£170,000) apiece.
The order means Volta now has orders for about 4,500 16-tonne trucks worth a total of about €1bn, said the chief executive, Essa Al-Saleh.
It is able to charge a premium of about €80,000 over a truck with a combustion engine because the cities being targeted by Volta will soon ban conventional vehicles. Even now they have to pay high fees for their polluting diesel engines, Mr Al-Saleh added.
Paris will ban diesel engines from 2024 and he believes more cities will follow suit, generating huge demand for electric trucks.
“For cities like Paris in 2024 it doesn’t make sense to compare it to an internal combustion engine, because there’ll be a ban on diesel vehicles in the city of Paris. So we'll see more of that occurring in other cities around Europe,” he said.
“Most of our customers that we've been talking to, and most of our sales that are pre-orders are coming from France, and Paris in particular. Their frustration they've stressed to us is been their lack of supply.”
Trucks of between 7.5 tonnes and 16 tonnes that Volta focuses on face little competition as most electric vehicle manufacturers are focusing on the largest heavy goods vehicles and trying to adapt existing designs to save money.
“This is where we think we're different,” he said. “It’s not like they're not doing it, but it will take much longer to do or achieve what we have been able to achieve.”
As well as Paris and London Volta is marketing the trucks to cities in Italy, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
The company’s trucks have the batteries stored in the rear, protected by the chassis, meaning the cab can be much lower than conventional designs, improving access and visibility.
Volta’s research team is based in the UK, where it will also make its prototypes. The trucks will be manufactured in Austria.