VW plans for electric trucks and buses, starting production next year


Volkswagen e-Delivery

Volkswagen e-Delivery

Enlarge Photo

Volkswagen Group has now detailed its aggressive electrification timeline for every part of its vehicle operations, including heavy trucks, setting lofty goals for zero-emission vehicles in the future.

While Volkswagen works on the passenger car side of things, VW Group's commercial-vehicle division, Volkswagen Truck & Bus, said in a company release that it plans to launch electric vehicles starting as early as next year.

Volkswagen Truck & Bus operates the Man and Scania brands, and it's strategically aligned with Navistar in the United States.

DON'T MISS: Volkswagen ID electric car to launch in 2020 along with new VW Golf

Notably, the division will roll out electric vans and trucks for "last mile transportation services" first.

These commercial vehicles will handle parcel delivery to end customers and are well positioned for electrification since delivery distances are short.

Last mile transportation vehicles are a booming industry as more individuals move into city centers and order more goods and services online and the vehicles don't require particularly long ranges.

Volkswagen e-Delivery

Volkswagen e-Delivery

Enlarge Photo

Like Volkswagen Group's passenger car division, which will utilize the dedicated electric MEB platform, the German automaker developed a modular platform specifically for electric buses and trucks.

VW says tests of these first vehicles will begin in late 2017 with large supermarket chains, breweries, and other businesses in Austria; the first production units should be ready by the end of next year, according to Joachim Drees, CEO of Man Truck & Bus.

In the meantime, Volkswagen Truck & Bus will start deliveries of its electric van called the e-Crafter at the end of this year.

READ THIS: VW e-Crafter, Mercedes Urban e-truck concept: electric vans for Europe

The e-Crafter uses a 43-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to provide 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) and 200 kilometers (124 miles) of range, though, the estimate is likely measured on the generous New European Driving Cycle.

Beyond 2018, Volkswagen Truck & Bus also plans for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

VW previewed one of the first trucks with the e-Delivery, which it developed in Brazil. Like the e-Crafter, it also returns an estimated 124 miles of range.

Volkswagen e-Crafter

Volkswagen e-Crafter

Enlarge Photo

The automaker plans for e-Delivery production to start in 2020 in Brazil alongside other unannounced trucks and buses. 

Heavy-duty trucks are further out in VW Group's product pipeline due to technology constraints.

Today's battery technology makes long-haul trucks and other long-range delivery vehicles a difficult proposition.

CHECK OUT: Cummins electric semi truck: traditional maker takes on Tesla

That isn't stopping some companies, however.

Tesla plans to show its all-electric semi truck next month and Cummins revealed its own all-electric semi earlier this year, too.

Still, both companies' electric semis will boast less range than a traditional diesel-powered semi; Tesla's truck will reportedly boast a 200 to 300-mile range, while Cummins' truck can go just 100 miles.

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