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Commercial EVs Still Delivering
Swedish company Volta's Zero delivery truck is partially constructed using organic materials. © Bridgestone

Commercial EVs Still Delivering

By Simon Johns - Oct 01, 2020

News from the world of commercial and public transport EVs.

Electric vehicle makers in the commercial and mass transit EV segments seem to have got production moving again, honored orders and made deliveries against a very challenging global economic backdrop that saw sales plummet. Production lines had been shuttered across the world, from Scania in Europe to BYD’s units around the world, but now they’re edging toward recovery.

Trucking America

A brand new U.S. startup Trova Commercial Vehicles has been minted in Virginia, set up by ex-Volvo Americas executive Patrick Collignon. The company has big plans to mass-produce commercial EVs and share technology and production capacities with other vehicle makers, according to a press release in August.

Canadian bus company Green Power Motor Co. is to deliver another 18 of its EV Stars vans to Green Commuter, a Los Angeles-based ride share and vanpool company. Green Power makes and distributes zero-emission delivery and transit vehicles. The company will also supply 10 Synapse electric school buses to the Santa Maria, Anaheim and Hughson school districts in California. The Synapse is a purpose-built type D school bus (the largest classification) with capacity for 90 passengers and a range of more than 200 kilometers.

Californian medium-duty chassis company Motiv Power Systems has teamed up with the Community Resource Project, a community welfare NGO based in Sacramento, to develop nine electric box trucks. The trucks will be used to provide a range of habitation services to low-income homes the area.

Europe Moving

Fire brigades in Los Angeles, Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai will take consignment this year of Austrian vehicle maker Rosenbauer’s hybrid fire engines. Dubbed Revolutionary Technology, the vehicles are fitted with an electric drive train built by Volvo Penta and a diesel range extender from BMW.

The U.S.-based commercial fuel cell vehicle developer Hyzon Motors set up a European subsidiary and opened headquarters in Groningen, the Netherlands. Vehicle assembly will be done by a third party while fuel cell drives will be made in its plant in the U.S..

A coalition of 18 companies and organizations formed the European Clean Trucking Alliance to work toward the decarbonization of road freight across the European Union zone. Road transport contributes about 20% of the continent’s emissions. The group calls for a reliable EU plan on how to decarbonise goods transport road by 2050. Among the founding members are Deutsche Post DHL, Geodis, IKEA, Nestle and Unilever.

Mercedes began phase-two user testing of its eActros 25-ton e-trucks. The real-world test will last about a year. Japanese truck company Fuso, that like Mercedes is a Daimler brand, is also testing a medium-duty semi-autonomous electric waste truck, which is a concept vehicle based on its eCanter EV platform.

Swedish light duty e-truck startup Volta Trucks will turn a few delivery drivers’ heads with a prototype all-electric 16-ton truck called the Volta Zero. Not only is the design novel – featuring a glass-surround easy-access cab – the urban delivery vehicle is made from high-tech organic materials developed with the European Space Agency. 

The U.K.’s Royal Mail postal service is testing a prototype version of LEVC’s new range-extender electric van, called the VN5. Royal Mail is one of 25 businesses taking part in the British trial, which will last until the fourth quarter of 2020. Owned by China’s Geely, LEVC is a commercial EV manufacturer mostly known for its electric versions of the infamous London black cab.

On the Buses

Chinese vehicle maker BYD has maintained a healthy order book this year, even as its production facilities have been shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s fulfilling orders for 10 K9S buses for Link Transit in Washington State, U.S., and three K7Ms to the Kansas City International Airport, making a total of seven passenger shuttles. Down south in Chile, the municipality of Santiago is buying 150 more BYD buses to bring the total to 455. The Norwegians are snapping up BYD’s solo and articulated buses, with the first 15 of an order of 55 going to operator Vy Buss in the city of Haugesund and 23 to Oslo’s Unibuss. The Hungarian city of Pecs took the keys to 10 buses built at the Chinese company’s local plant in Komarom, Hungary. Public transit operators in Bochum and Herne, Germany, will receive 22 vehicles by October 2020. Madrid ordered another 30 vehicles on top of the 15 it bought in May. BYD and its U.K. partner ADL are helping coach company National Express to electrify its entire fleet by 2030 with delivery of 29 vehicles. Lastly, eight BYD Enviro 200 EVs are off to Auckland in New Zealand.

Elsewhere in Norway, 102 Yutong E12 buses are on their way to Bergen, ordered by local transit authority Skyss and operated by Keolis, a private public transport system operator. Yutong also intends to set up a production facility in the Kazakhstan city of Saran, with proposed capacity of 1,200 electric buses per year.

JBM Group, an Indian energy and automotive conglomerate, will join forces with Chinese fast-charging battery system provider Microvast to produce electric buses. The vehicles will boast fast-charging batteries that can pick up and drop off passengers for up to 300 km on a single charge.

South Korean company Caris signed an agreement with Ukrainian engineering company Yuzhmash to build 5,000 buses and 7,800 charging stations. Yuzhmash also makes rockets, satellites and tractors.

Ebusco, a Dutch bus maker, received an order from the Belgian operator Multiobus for 10 Ebusco 2.2s, set to enter service in Flemish Brabant from spring of 2021. The buses join a pair that Multiobus has been operating in Tienen, Belgium, for two years.

Across the North Sea in the U.K., commercial EV developer Arrival revealed designs for an electric bus. While not necessarily remarkable, what sets Arrival apart is its idea of making the vehicles in local “micro factories” rather than a central production plant. At the moment, however, the company is concentrating on fulfilling an order from global courier company UPS for 10,000 delivery vans at its main site in the U.K.

Volvo Buses recently made public an order from operator Vy Buss for 49 electric buses for the Swedish city of Jonkoping. Delivery should be mid-2021, Volvo said in a press release. Vy Buss ordered another 22 buses from the heavy-duty giant for the Norwegian towns of Drammen and Alesund.

Polish bus builder Solaris scored a big home contract from Malbork’s transport operator MZK Malbork for six Urbino 12s and operator PKM in the city of Sosnowiec for nine solo and five articulated Urbinos. OVB in the Germany city of Offenbach bought 29 Solaris e-buses, including 20 solo and nine articulated. City transit authorities in the Romanian city of Ploiești splashed out a cool €8.2 million on 20 Solaris trolleybuses.

Irizar has begun rolling-out the first of 13 e-buses ordered last year by the municipality in the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

U.S. bus company Proterra agreed to supply a 450 kWh battery system for ZDi buses built by Bustech, an Australian company.