Volta Trucks Unveils e-vehicle with Natural Flax Material-based Exterior Body
Volta Trucks has revealed the new Volta Zero, its first vehicle and the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-ton commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner-city parcel and freight distribution. From launch, the Volta Zero will be a significant contributor to the future vision of zero-emission cities all over the world.
Bcomp’s Natural Flax Material for Exterior Body
The Volta Zero will be the first road vehicle to use a sustainably sourced natural Flax material and biodegradable resin in the construction of exterior body panels, with the cab’s dark body panels and many interior trims constructed from the natural material. The high- tech Flax weave was developed by Volta’s supplier Bcomp in collaboration with the European Space Agency.
The Flax weave is reinforced with Bcomp’s patented powerRibs™ grid technology. The result is a fully natural, extremely lightweight, high-performance fiber matting that is almost CO2 neutral over its lifecycle. It also matches the stiffness and weight of carbon fiber but uses 75% less CO2 to produce. The Flax matting is combined with a biodegradable resin by world-class composites manufacturer, Bamd in the UK, to produce the body panels for the Volta Zero. The fully bio-based resin, derived from Rape Seed oil, creates a naturally brown colored matting and a black natural pigment dye is added to complete its darker, technical appearance.
Easy Disposal and Higher Safety
At the end of their useful life, the Flax composite parts can be burnt within the standard waste management system and used for thermal energy recovery, unlike alternative composite materials that are usually sent to landfill.
This natural composite is not just sustainable but is also safer for vehicles operating in inner-city environments. Should an accident occur, the Flax composite bends, reshapes and ultimately snaps, offering a flexible fracture behaviour without sharp edges. This reduces the risk of sharp debris that can injure people or cause further accidents through punctures.
Manufacturing the Volta Zero
The Volta Zero is 9,460mm in length, 3,470mm high and 2,550mm wide, with a wheelbase of 4,800mm. It’s Gross Vehicle Weight is 16,000kgs and the vehicle is limited to a top speed of 90km/h (56mph).
The Volta Zero offers a payload of 8,600kgs, with an overall volume of 37.7m 3 and is designed to accommodate 16 Euro pallets. A refrigerated cargo box will also be available, without reducing overall volume as a result of the vehicle design. Volta Trucks is integrating the use of the vehicle’s battery for the cooling and refrigeration unit of the cargo box that's normally diesel-powered, thus further reducing CO 2 or particulate emissions from commercial vehicle operations.
In H1-2021, Volta Trucks will embark on the next stage of development, being the production of 12 pilot fleet vehicles. These vehicles will be built in the UK and used for testing and evaluation with several Europe’s leading logistics companies to provide operator input and feedback on the final production specification.
Production of the Volta Zero is due to commence in 2022 and investigations are ongoing to secure a contract manufacturing partner to assist with production. Production is anticipated to be in the UK. By the end of 2022, Volta Trucks aims to have built around 500 customer-specification vehicles, rising to 5,000 vehicles a year by 2025, and increasing thereafter.
Innovative E-axle to Drive the Rear Wheels
At launch, Volta Trucks will be the first full-electric large commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe to use an innovative e-Axle to drive the rear wheels, rather than the conventional electric motor and driveshaft set up used by the small number of other electric truck manufacturers.
The single electric motor, transmission, and axle of the Volta Zero are contained in a lightweight and compact e-Axle unit that’s lighter and more efficient, delivering an increased range as a result. It also provides packaging benefits by freeing up space between the chassis rails. This is where Volta Trucks fits the battery of the vehicle – the safest possible location.
Safe and Sustainable Battery Technology
The Volta Zero will use 160 - 200 kWh of battery power, and Volta Trucks has selected to fit the vehicle with Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries instead of a Nickel Cobalt Manganese set up used in most passenger cars. The Lithium Iron Phosphate battery will be highly modular, enabling Volta Trucks to adapt the vehicle to an operator’s specific requirements.
Located between the chassis rails, the battery is as far away from an accident as possible. Should the vehicle be involved in a significant accident that punctures a battery cell, the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery is very stable and does not ignite. By contrast, should a Nickel Cobalt Manganese battery cell be punctured, they can burn at extremely high temperatures. With commercial vehicles operating within public and depot environments, the use of Lithium Iron Phosphate negates these significant safety and insurance challenges.