Two carriers expand fleets with Volvo’s VNR Electric heavy-duty trucks as part of pilot project

Volvo VNR Electric on Highway
The Volvo VNR Electric truck has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, enabling the vehicle to be commercially sold in all 50 states. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Volvo Trucks North America is expanding the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) pilot project with the delivery of heavy-duty VNR Electric trucks to serve the Southern California fleets of two carriers, Dependable Highway Express and NFI Industries.

The Volvo VNR Electric trucks were deployed as part of the Volvo LIGHTS project, a collaboration with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AWMD), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and other organizations to develop a blueprint to successfully introduce battery-electric trucks and equipment into the market at scale in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment. The pilot project, which will run through the end of 2021, is designed to demonstrate the ability of battery-electric trucks to be incorporated into fleets to transport goods on daily routes. Beginning in 2021, Southern California businesses will have the opportunity to lease commercial Volvo VNR Electric trucks from TEC Equipment.

Dependable Highway Express

On Sept. 10, Volvo Trucks North America announced that Los Angeles-based Dependable Highway Express (DHE) received two Volvo VNR Electric trucks, the first battery-electric Class 8 trucks to join the carrier’s fleet. The two electric trucks will be added to DHE’s existing fleet of more than 500 Volvo trucks operating across North America as part of the Volvo LIGHTS pilot project.

DHE Delivery
Dependable Highway Express received two Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 trucks as part of the Volvo LIGHTS pilot project. Shown here, left to right, are Aravind Kailas, advanced technology policy director for Volvo Group North America; Troy Musgrave, director of process improvement for DHE; Joe Finney, chief operating officer for DHE; Janice Rutherford, county supervisor, San Bernardino County and South Coast Air Quality Management District board member; and Mike Reardon, general manager of TEC Equipment. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

“DHE is incredibly proud to be one of the first fleets to deploy Volvo VNR Electric trucks in North America,” said DHE’s Chief Operating Officer Joe Finney. “DHE is a family-run business that considers our employees as family, which is why we want only the best for our drivers. Volvo’s entire line-up of Class 8 trucks offer our drivers the safest and most comfortable environment on the market, which is why we’ve only purchased Volvo trucks for our fleet since 2014. The Volvo VNR Electric truck cabin is nearly identical to its diesel counterpart, but with a whisper-quiet engine, a super smooth ride, and zero emissions. Our drivers can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the VNR Electric trucks and put them to work.”

DHE will operate the two Volvo VNR Electric trucks out of its facility in Ontario, California, which manages a fleet of 40 Class 8 trucks. The Volvo VNR Electric trucks will run daily routes that vary from 60 to 80 miles, transporting goods from Ontario to warehouses throughout Southern California. By completing several different routes, the trucks will collect performance data under various operating conditions, producing real-world operational data on the trucks’ power, performance, and range. This information will help Volvo Trucks validate customization measures to provide the most seamless transition to battery-electric trucks for its customers.

“Working with DHE as a trusted fleet partner for years, they’ve come to expect the reliability, performance, and safety that is synonymous with a Volvo truck. We look forward to DHE putting these VNR Electric truck models through the rigors of their daily operations and experiencing that same level of quality,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “These zero-emission trucks will start delivering benefits to drivers and communities today, while providing us with the valuable real-world data we need to successfully introduce these trucks commercially in the very near future, a milestone in the transition to wide-scale, sustainable transport solutions.”

DHE is a core division of Dependable Supply Chain Services, a full-service logistics provider established in 1950. DHE’s services include trucking, warehousing and distribution, harbor drayage, third-party logistics, air and ocean freight forwarding, and freight transport.

“The Volvo LIGHTS project is figuratively paving the road toward achieving meaningful emission reductions in the freight movement sector — the largest single source of air pollution in our region,” said Janice Rutherford, San Bernardino County, second district supervisor and South Coast AQMD board member. “I am pleased to see these zero-emission Volvo VNR Electric trucks driving through my district in San Bernardino County and look forward to larger scale deployments.”

In June, the first Volvo LIGHTS VNR Electric truck was deployed at Volvo Trucks North America TEC Equipment dealership in Fontana, California, which will provide DHE with ongoing maintenance support for the Volvo VNR Electric trucks. On the near-term horizon, additional announcements about fleet customer demonstrations will be made.

“By operating our own all-electric VNR for the past four months, our maintenance and repair crew has already gained incredible hands-on experience,” said Mike Reardon, general manager of TEC Equipment’s Fontana, California, dealership. “We’re thrilled to extend our contracted maintenance services with DHE to include their two Volvo VNR Electric trucks and look forward to helping their team maximize their uptime.”

NFI Industries

NFI Industries, a third-party supply chain solutions provider, is piloting two Volvo VNR Electric Trucks as part of the Volvo LIGHTS project, becoming the third company to deploy the battery-electric trucks, Volvo Trucks North America announced Sept. 21.

NFI Drivers
NFI Industries will base the Volvo VNR Electric trucks at a company facility in Southern California that serves as a central distribution center for the region. Shown here, from left to right, are Robert Estrell and Chibuike Nwadigo, drivers for NFI; Hector Banuelos, fleet manager for NFI; and Jeffrey Howard and Elvis Alvarado, drivers for NFI. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

The Volvo VNR Electric trucks join NFI’s fleet of more than 4,500 heavy-duty tractors that support its dedicated transportation and port drayage services for customers spanning from manufacturing to retail. The pilot trucks will be based out of one of NFI’s warehouse facilities in Southern California that serves as a central distribution center for the region.

“As the future of goods movement in the U.S. changes from more of a long-haul operation to regional and hub and spoke models, not only is that NFI’s wheelhouse, it’s an ideal scenario to immerse electrification into our regional hauling strategy,” said Jim O’Leary, vice president of assets/fleet services for NFI Industries. “Our executive team is excited to collaborate with the Volvo LIGHTS team to accelerate our transition to a zero-emission fleet, so that we can lower our carbon footprint, reduce our operating costs and provide a better work environment for our drivers.”

Recognized as a four-time award-winning, EPA SmartWay Partner, NFI implements a variety of clean vehicles and equipment to reduce its overall emissions, including electric heavy-duty trucks, near-zero-emission natural-gas vehicles, and battery-electric warehouse equipment.

“By participating in the Volvo LIGHTS project, NFI is helping to prove that Volvo’s VNR Electric trucks can handle the daily rigors of freight movement. NFI continues to be a leader in sustainability and it comes across in everything they do,” said Volvo Trucks North America’s Voorhoeve. “NFI is realizing the immediate value the electric VNR provides — not just by eliminating emissions, but creating an enthusiastic workforce complimenting the experience of driving these electric truck models. We are proud to continue to partner with NFI — a leader of fleet innovation and a fellow champion of sustainable transport solutions.”

Volvo’s VNR Electric trucks produce zero emissions and significantly reduce heat, noise and vibrations allowing for the cleanest and most comfortable driving experience, according to drivers for NFI.

“It’s very quiet. You come home feeling a lot calmer and a lot more relaxed at the end of the day,” said Karl Williams, a driver for NFI.

“When I accelerate the Volvo VNR Electric truck, I can feel the power,” said Francisco Delgado, an NFI driver with more than 20 years of experience operating heavy-duty trucks. “It’s fast, and it’s very smooth. I’m very excited to drive it.”

The Volvo VNR Electric heavy-duty trucks provide excellent responsiveness, torque and performance, especially in the heavy-idling, stop-and-go nature of urban goods movement which is particularly taxing for diesel trucks.

“These types of zero-emission trucks are exactly what we need to help us achieve our clean air goals,” said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD’s executive officer. “We are pleased with the progress made through the Volvo LIGHTS program and look forward to similar deployments throughout Southern California.”

Sydney Vergis, assistant chief of CARB’s Mobile Source Division, also expressed optimism about the use of battery-electric trucks in the freight industry.

“We are excited to see another deployment of Volvo Trucks’ cutting-edge zero-emission vehicles being put into service,” Vergis said. “This deployment is a culmination of countless hours of collaboration. The Volvo LIGHTS partners are continuing to lead with innovation and ingenuity, charting an actionable, zero-emission path forward for others to follow.”

About Volvo VNR Electric

The Volvo VNR Electric model was recently certified by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), enabling the vehicle to be commercially sold in all 50 U.S. states. This step moves Volvo Trucks North America another step closer to the commercial launch of the VNR Electric. Beginning in 2021, Southern California businesses will be able to lease commercial Volvo VNR Electric trucks from TEC Equipment.

In addition to zero tailpipe emissions, the Volvo VNR Electric trucks simplify maintenance and improve working conditions for drivers by offering state-of-the-art responsiveness, a quieter cab free of engine-related vibrations, and by eliminating exposure to diesel fuel and exhaust.

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