Trucks, Volvo

The Practicalities of an Electric Truck

The Practicalities of an Electric Truck

“What influences driving range and how much?”, asks Shayne Commons, Volvo’s Director of Product and Performance, when talking about the practicalities of an electric truck.

“I think it’s important to say first about electric vehicles, that when it comes down to driving an electric vehicle, it’s still a truck, a truck is a truck, whether it’s a diesel truck or an electric truck, there still is a way to drive these efficiently and effectively.

“Whilst there’s some technology differences, driving the truck efficiently comes down to virtually the same requirements and parameters. When we do look at what differs, temperatures can have a large impact on the electric range whether it’s hot or cold. Cold generally has a lot more impact on the range or usable energy.”

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Weight and speed is very important, and can have a substantial effect, because Australia is a truck market that runs much higher weights at higher speeds than a lot of other markets. These can seriously alter the effective range available from each set of batteries. There’s also approximately a 20 per cent reduction from new to old when it comes to battery degradation over the life of that battery.

“What we look to do with electric vehicles is to optimise the performance of that vehicle through regenerative braking and trying to recuperate that power in some of the different driving conditions,” says Shayne. “We want to utilise more coasting, we want to reduce stop and start driving because you don’t want to shift that heavy mass and momentum.

“A lot of people think, it’s an electric vehicle, it’s got better regeneration, a driver has to do the regenerative braking to get the power back and regenerate the batteries, but in actual fact, and what we’ve seen is, that it’s best not to brake at all, if you don’t have to. So, anticipate the traffic ahead, then keep a conservative driving style, and look for and keep a stable steady pace. If you need to brake, do it gently if you need to accelerate, also do it gently.

Image: Prime Creative Media

“What we’re trying to do is not rely too much on the system in different conditions. Whilst historically we’ve said you need to utilise topography, cruise control in all conditions, sometimes with an electric vehicle it’s better to not use cruise control because that will try and maintain the distance ahead and then maintain that distance through speeding up and braking. In some situations it’s best to optimise your driving style and keep a conservative distance away.

“An analogy that is used quite often with the electric vehicles, and what we’ve used through our training, is not the coffee cup in the cup holder, we actually use a wind chime in the cab to try and show that momentum will change the acceleration and braking, to develop an understanding of how the vehicle is being driven. You want to anticipate braking, anticipate the traffic or the traffic lights ahead and then try not to drive too fast as you progress through them.”


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