Need for Commercial EV Charging Network Brings Competitors Together

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4Q 2021 | IN-6395

A joint venture of historical significance is working to promote more environmentally friendly electric vehicles throughout Europe.

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Daimler, Volvo, and TRATON Shake Hands


Daimler Truck (a spin-off of Daimler AG) joined the Volvo Group, along with VW AG’s the TRATON Group, for a joint venture (JV) planned to establish and manage a public charging network for heavy-duty, long-haul electric vehicles and buses throughout Europe. The three partners expect to invest about US$593 million in order to enable a minimum of 1,700 brand-agnostic charging stations over the next five years. They will be located near highways and other key locations. The JV is expected to have its own separate corporate identity with headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Infrastructure Required to Impact Adoption


The JV should help support the European Union’s Green Deal and the 2050 deadline for carbon-neutral freight transportation. TRATON’s CEO detailed that in order for the EU to achieve the 2050 goal, it will require approximately €10 billion (approximately US$11 billion) worth of infrastructure. The €500 million investment in the new corporate entity is estimated to be the greatest investment in European charging infrastructure for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

The JV, which is equally owned, will continue to entertain adding other partners seeking public funding as well. The new firm is expected to begin operations next year, pending regulatory approval. In addition to the current three-way JV, Volvo Group and Daimler Trucks recently struck a manufacturing deal and announced a roadmap for a new entity named cellcentric for European hydrogen fuel cells beginning in 2025. Its goal is to be a “leading global manufacturer of fuel-cells.” The evolution from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to green solutions for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) will require high performance, well above passenger vehicles. This transition will have a material impact on emissions throughout the region, with infrastructure and growth in offerings/sales of these heavy-duty Electric Vehicles (EVs) closely intertwined. The JV’s network will be open and accessible for commercial vehicles of any brand across Europe.

Despite the historic cooperation, all three will continue to compete for commercial vehicle sales, including EVs. Both Daimler Truck and Volvo expect to have carbon neutral line-ups by 2039/2040 model years. TRATON Group expects the same by 2050, with sales limited to fossil-free by 2040. In North America, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) provides its own charging infrastructure. DTNA anticipates that Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell vehicles should account for about 60% of their sales by 2030.

Europe Takes the Lead and Others Need to Follow Fast


At this point in time, Europe has taken a much for assertive position on climate change. The three parties in the JV play a global role and together account for a significant sales volume, both in Europe and many parts of the globe. It is essential that both public/regulatory and private interests combine for more urgent actions throughout the markets that they serve. The United Nation’s recent Glasgow Climate Change Conference included the Climate Neutral Now Initiative and National Adaptive Plans play a role, but tools need to be translated into regulations, investments, and accountability.

Beyond the holistic needs, the specifics of each region, country, and use cases must be acknowledged. These include the size of the geography, the road infrastructure itself, the electric infrastructure capabilities and the variation, timing, and load of transportation.  There is likely to be a range of solutions, especially until current battery technology evolve in the size, weight, and range needed for heavy-duty trucks. That is one key reason why Daimler Truck and Volvo are partnering on hydrogen fuel cells. This technology is moving faster in Europe than in the US, despite attempts to foster by Nikola. Daimler Trucks believes that the US is up to two years behind the EU for this technology adoption.

A number of local trails such as South Coast Air Quality Management District in California and The New York City Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan in the US need to scale quickly, with a public-private investment strategy and lessons adopted from the European Union. Other countries, including some in Latin America, are beginning with faster adoption for repeated routes like municipal buses. An overarching plan with room for regional adoption needs to begin sooner and with greater velocity.



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