Volvo Trucks North America
Severe Weather Testing Image

Volvo to test VNR Electrics in extreme weather with University of Minnesota, fleets

June 27, 2023
VTNA will test its Class 8 BEVs with battery thermal management systems in Minnesota and Texas to determine how cold and heat affect efficiency and mileage. Murphy Logistics, grocer HEB, and the DOE are partners.

Volvo Trucks North America is working with the University of Minnesota (UMN) to conduct extreme weather testing for its Class 8 VNR Electric model to analyze the impact of ambient temperature on a truck’s battery life. UMN has teamed up with Murphy Logistics Solutions (Murphy) to test the battery-electric trucks in Minnesota with cold winter temperatures and H-E-B Grocery Company (HEB) in Texas to test during periods of intense summer heat. The extreme weather testing project, which will demonstrate the capability of the Volvo VNR Electric using real-world fleet routes, is part of a Battery Efficiency for Sustainable Trucks (BEST) Project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technology Office.

The project will track the results of two Volvo VNR Electric engineering trucks with a six-battery configuration that are rated to provide up to 275 miles of range. Volvo is analyzing the battery-electric trucks’ performance on different routes in extreme temperatures with varying terrains and payload weights to better understand the challenges these factors present to help customers improve route planning and optimization, the company stated in a press release.

See also: Volvo finding fuel cell success in Arctic conditions

Murphy and HEB will operate the battery-electric trucks on freight routes that exceed 250 miles in a day utilizing drivers in their fleets who have been trained by the Volvo electromobility team to utilize regenerative braking and other safe driving practices designed to maximize vehicle range. The VNR Electric trucks will leave the warehouse at the beginning of the day with a fully charged battery, and drivers will aim to return at the end of the day with a 10% charge.

“Volvo Trucks’ key to success is always aiming to improve the business value of our trucks for our customers and continuing to develop a positive impact on the total cost of ownership for the Volvo VNR Electric trucks. This research project is a critical step to ensuring the efficiency and reliability of Class 8 battery-electric trucks regardless of the environmental factors,” said Keith Brandis, vice president of system solutions and partnerships for Volvo Group. “The results of this testing can be expected to bolster fleets’ confidence in the Volvo VNR Electric trucks’ reliability and performance in all weather conditions while still providing the creature comforts for drivers.”

See also: Calstart reports breakthrough growth for ZETs. What does that mean for fleets?

Battery-electric vehicles can experience range reductions during extreme temperatures due to battery chemistry where the chemical and physical reactions in the battery can occur more slowly, reducing the BEV’s range. To combat that, a dedicated battery thermal management system (BTMS) is included with the VNR Electric model to manage and maintain the optimum battery temperature range. The BTMS is a dedicated heating and cooling system connected to the batteries with the purpose of avoiding the chemical reaction slow down or potential cell damage in extreme conditions.

The other significant factor is the use of auxiliary power to either cool or warm the passenger cabin. If the ambient temperature is significantly above or below 70-71 F—the average temperature people keep their homes—the driver is more likely to turn on the heat or air conditioning, which draws energy from the battery, Volvo stated in its release.

See also: Volvo triples EV dealership locations in 12 months, with dozens more planned

In addition to the severe weather testing, UMN has developed an intelligent energy management system (EMS) connected solution tool to help fleets understand how driving style can impact range, as well as how to take advantage of more energy-efficient routing and decrease the cost and time required for on-route battery charging. The tool uses a machine learning-based algorithm to dynamically inform drivers about available range and minimum charging requirements, taking load and ambient conditions into consideration. The EMS also enables higher efficiency and longer range through eco-route planning. To date, the EMS tool has helped Murphy and HEB achieve more than a 20% increase in range, according to the release.

Once the research project in both climates is complete, UMN will publish the results in a series of conference and journal papers, in addition to sharing information with the U.S. DOE and Volvo in the form of a final project report.

About the Author

FleetOwner Staff

Our Editorial Team

Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

Josh Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

Jade Brasher, Senior Editor

Jeremy Wolfe, Editor

Jenna Hume, Digital Editor

Eric Van Egeren, Art Director

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry at our April 16th webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive pay...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!