Volkswagen Truck & Bus, the commercial vehicles division of the German giant, which now owns MAN, Scania and a major chunk of Navistar in the, has become the latest to announce a commitment to electric vehicles.
VW says it wants to introduce electric vans and trucks for “last mile transportation services,” i.e. the delivery of parcels to end customers.
This is a booming industry as more people move into cities and buy more of their goods online and
requires less range making them ideal for electric vehicles.
In the statement Volkswagen Truck & Bus says it will start deliveries of its electric van, dubbed the eCrafter late this year 2017.
Hiowever bigger medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles are also under developed by VW.
The key is a new modular electric platform designed for both buses and trucks. Delivery trucks based on the platform will be used in trials starting later this year.
Nine of the trucks will take part in the trial which will involve large supermarket chains, breweries and haulers in Austria.
Joachim Drees, the CEO of MAN Truck & Bus says the first examples should be ready for sale by the end of 2018.
An example of one of the first electric trucks based on the platform is the Volkswagen e-Delivery which was developed by VW T & B’s Brazillian subsidiary and promises a range of roughly 180 kilometres on a single charge.
It’s scheduled to enter production at a plant in Brazil in 2020.
Buses based on its new modular electric platform are also scheduled to enter production in 2020.
In terms of heavy-duty trucks and long-haul transportation, VW says that modern-day battery technology still has serious hurdles to overcome including range capacities and charging infrastructure.
As these hurdles are dealt with VW says it is investing in cleaner alternatives to conventional diesel trucks including natural gas and biodiesel fuel.