Prodrive (a British motor-sport and advanced-engineering group) is working with Volta Trucks (www.voltatrucks.com
) to engineer its ‘revolutionary’ 16-tonne electric HGV to meet zero-emission requirements — and to keep ‘vulnerable road users safer in crowded urban environments’.
The Banbury-based group will help to develop the design into a drivable demonstrator by early summer 2020.
According to the London Mayor’s office, 23% of pedestrian deaths and 58% of cyclist deaths in London involve an HGV, despite these vehicles accounting for only 4% of the road miles in London.
By positioning the driver in the centre of the cab and at eye level with the pedestrians, using extensive glazing in the cabin and replacing the rear-view mirrors with cameras, blind spots can be eliminated.
Transport for London already has a star rating system for truck ‘visibility’ (called the Direct Vision Standard), which will come into effect in October 2020.
) believes the Volta truck will exceed that ‘by such a margin as to set a new standard’.
Targets for the truck include a range of 100 miles, a top speed of 50mph and a ‘gradability sufficient to briskly negotiate the on-off ramps and slip roads typical of urban elevated routes’.
To maximise the payload, the new cab will be a composite-clad spaceframe structure (with composite panels made from natural fibres rather than carbon fibres).
The vehicle will be designed so that it can be produced in a range of sizes, from 14 to 18 tonnes.
In order to meet the short time-scales, Volta has brought together a number of partners. These include Astheimer (a specialist in auto-motive design) and Conjure (for the human-machine interface).
Prodrive’s role is overall engineering responsibility for the vehicle and programme delivery, including the cab, chassis and electrical architecture.
During the manufacture of the prototype batch, Prodrive will gradually hand over build responsibility to the confirmed production supplier, but it will retain engineering responsibility and oversee on-going development.
The target manufacturing volume is 2,000 units per year.