SWEDISH truck manufacturer Volvo Trucks is in discussions with Samsung to develop future-generation batteries in order to commercialise trucks powered by electricity, its chief said.
In an interview with The Korea Herald, Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks, said the company has been in talks with the South Korean tech giant to introduce electric trucks, which are part of what the company envisions for a “greener” future.
A fully electrified truck, not only for Volvo but also other traditional manufacturers, still remains a mere concept, as it requires a long driving range, or in other words, lots of batteries.
“We are already collaborating with Samsung when it comes to battery technology,” he said.
“Where we are using the fully electric drive lines today is on the bus side. But as we move forward, we need (full electric lines for) trucks as well and yes, Korean industry, when it comes to semiconductors and batteries, etc, are very advanced,” he said, without elaborating on the extent of collaboration with Samsung SDI, a battery and display making affiliate of the group, and what type of batteries they may be developing.
Although Hydrogen has potential today, batteries are more likely to be the mainstream, he said. “But right now the most promising development is in batteries rather than hydrogen,” he said, adding that the company has been developing all three types of green trucks to be prepared as to where the technology might lead to. “But that can change in five or 10 years, nobody knows.”
The head of Volvo Trucks was in Seoul to present the company’s future vision of taking a lead in connectivity, automation and electro-mobility in the commercial vehicle segment. Also, to keep its top position in the Korean market, the company has decided to install two safety features - collision warning with emergency braking and lane-keeping support - in all its heavy-duty trucks to be sold from January, one year ahead of the Korean government’s plans to require commercial vehicle manufacturers, both domestic and foreign, to enhance safety features in their models from 2019.
Traffic accidents caused by trucks and buses have been major safety concerns in South Korea.
“When we think the technology is mature and the market is ready, we don’t wait for the legislation,” he said.
Currently, Volvo Trucks is the top commercial vehicle importer in South Korea and the third after two domestic brands, Hyundai and Tata Daewoo.
South Korea is Volvo Trucks’ ninth-biggest market in terms of profit generation. It expects to sell about 3,000 trucks in the country, a 15 per cent increase from last year. Though the market here accounts for only 3 percent of all Volvo trucks sold worldwide, South Korea is a growing and important market. Demand for efficient trucks is high not just among customers, but also in terms of the traffic environment.
“The customer base in this county is demanding efficient types of trucks in transportation, we believe we have good product offers to this market,” he said.
“We also believe that (the) transportation environment here is very demanding in terms of weight and road condition and utilisation, and very quality conscious customers can help us actually develop.”