Volvo will begin producing heavy-duty electric trucks from next year as it becomes one of the first mainstream manufacturers to successfully tackle environmentally friendly haulage.
The Swedish company said it would begin volume production of the trucks, which have a range of 186 miles, with a view to delivering them in 2022.
The commercial vehicle company – which is separate from car manufacturer of the same name – is seeking to cement its place in a market this being eyed by newer upstarts such as Tesla and Nikola.
Tesla boss Elon Musk has been hoping to launch his electric “Semi” truck since its unveiling in 2017, but its entry into service is slipping and not expected until next year.
Nikola’s hopes of bringing in electric and hydrogen heavy trucks unravelled in the summer after a promotional video was exposed as a fraud.
The company admitted footage of a truck driving under its own power had been cleverly shot, and was in fact rolling downhill.
Volvo started electrifying its commercial vehicles more than a decade ago with buses and last year moved into medium electric trucks, typically for urban use that requires shorter ranges.
However, the latest announcement steps the business up into the 44-tonne heavy duty sector.
Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks, said: “By rapidly increasing the number of heavy-duty electric trucks, we want to help our customers and transport buyers to achieve their ambitious sustainability goals. We’re determined to continue driving our industry towards a sustainable future.”
The company wants 35pc of the trucks it sells to be zero-emission vehicles by the end of this decade, with hydrogen-powered models entering its rage within five years. By 2040 it hopes to phase out production of combustion-engine trucks.
The main challenge for electric heavy-duty trucks is the weight of batteries that enable them to match conventionally powered vehicles and transport loads over long distances.
Trucks going on sale next year will be aimed at regional transport operators, and the company has agreed a tie-up with rival Daimler to develop a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that can compete with traditional diesel trucks on long-haul routes.