Chinese automotive company, Geely, best known as the owner of the Volvo car brand as well as sports car maker Lotus, has announced it is getting into the zero emission truck business, unveiling plans for a futuristic electric prime mover as automakers around the world clamour to bring new technology to the commercial vehicles market.
Geely’s commercial vehicle group, Farizon Auto, announced it is planning to roll out its Homtruck by 2024 and will target international markets, Farizon CEO, Mike Fan told media earlier this week.
“This product is designed and developed facing the global market and we will be targeting Europe, Korea, Japan and North America, with the new truck,” said Mike Fan.
Geely’s Homtruck launch comes as a number of automakers from Daimler to Tesla, and the Warren Buffett-backed Chinese maker BYD have revealed plans for electric trucks..
The Farizon Homtruck will have different power options including methanol fuelled hybrid electric truck as well as a pure electric version.
Whiel details were sketchy, it is believed the Methanol-powered hybrids would use a small internal combustion engine, powered by renewable and clean burning methanol to charge the truck’s batteries on the move.
Geely has been investing in methanol technology for several years and some of its cars currently have been fitted with methanol fuelled power units.
The futuristic Homtruck has been designed with a sleep cab and an interior including a shower and toilet, sleeper bunk fridge, a kitchen and a washing machine, the company said.
Geely also said the Homtruck has been built with autonomous driving in mind, with the company saying the truck will be able to use some partially autonomous driverless features, and will be able to communicate with each other to maintain safe speed and distance cfor longer journeys.
Fan said that Geely plans to introduce autonomous driving in three phases, with the hope of some partial driverless features by 2023, with more advanced systems by 2026, and full autonomy by 2030
“I’m sure regulations and standards of autonomous driving are in the process of formation,” Fan said
“On the basis of market demand and the development demand of our own company, Geely should develop and improve certain technologies ahead of time, so that when regulations and conditions are ready, we can apply our technology into the market in time,” he added.
Like all automotive companies at the moment Geely is battling supply issues, particularly with electronic chips.
Fan said that rising raw material prices are also affecting the company’s production quantity and margin as it faces “rising price pressure.”
He called rising raw material prices a “period issue” which will “gradually ease”. He also said the global chip shortage is restricting the company’s production volume, but he said that supply issues are “gradually being resolved” and companies are working on “alternative solutions” for chips
“So these two parts will play together in order to ease the chip shortage,” he said.
Automakers around the globe have also been dealing with a surge in the prices of raw materials along with the global shortage of semiconductors, and vehicle makers are watching the price of lithium, which has surged to record highs this year
Industry analysts say that battery makers are already starting to pass on t price rises to automotive companies which could have a major impact on electric vehicles coming to market in the next two years.