European electric truck start-up Volta, has unveiled the first running prototype chassis of its Volta Zero , which the company claims is the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle specifically for inner city logistics.

Volta claims the milestone has been achieved at industry-leading pace.

Volta says its first running Zero prototype chassis has been designed and built using the proposed production specification frame and drivetrain components of the finished vehicle.

It includes a high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra, and a compact Meritor eAxle, which is a rear axle, integrated with the electric motor and transmission.

Volta says the Zero will be the first commercial vehicle in Europe to use the eAxle for increased efficiency and vehicle range.

Volta unveiled the Zero in September 2020, and the company says its innovative safety-focused design and sustainability objectives have been positively received by customers and legislators alike. The demonstrator vehicle shown at launch is currently being presented to customers at the Innovation and Technology in Transport (ITT) Hub conference in Farnborough, in the UK.

Volta says the new prototype chassis adds the proposed production-specification frame and drivetrain and will be able to drive at normal road speeds. It adds that the prototype is due to start a comprehensive testing program on proving grounds soon, with lessons learned from that to be taken into the production of a Pilot Fleet expected to be delivered late this year.

Volta Trucks engineers will test them as well, while also being evaluated by key customers who have signed up for both testing and the option on the series production, which the company says will develop its understanding of how they will integrate into operations. Full-scale production of customer-spec trucks is expected to follow at the end of 2022.

Volta Trucks CEO, Essa Al-Saleh, said that the reveal of the first running prototype Zero chassis is a major milestone on the company’s journey to produce the first customer-spec vehicles in around 18 months’ time.

“The prototype will provide our designers and engineers with feedback and real-world data on the vehicle performance,” said Essa Al-Saleh.

 “The learning from the prototype will also feed into the pilot fleet vehicles that will support our customer’s understanding of the electrification of their fleets,” the CEO said.

 “This is also a great example of the nimble and agile culture and approach we have at Volta Trucks. While traditional vehicle manufacturers take years to undertake market assessments, design processes and vehicle development, at Volta Trucks, we work at speed because we know that the world’s climate emergency cannot wait, and our customers need vehicles now,” he added.

 “In six months, we have designed and developed a running prototype chassis and 18 months from now, we will be building series production vehicles for our customers, this is what they need, this is the speed they need us to work at, and this is what we’ll deliver,”  he concluded.