Revolutionising Urban Transport: A New Era of Electric Truck Safety and Visibility
All-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer and service provider Volta Trucks has set a new industry standard for all-around vision.
With a volumetric score of 32.82m³, the rating for the Volta Zero is the highest ever result of any vehicle tested and 50% higher than the nearest competitor, at 22m³. It seems impressive, but what does it mean in practice, and why does it matter?
It matters because, very soon, all commercial trucks operating in and around European cities and urban areas must comply with stricter safety standards, including visibility. And currently, most of them are falling short, so they rely on additional safety measures, such as fitting cameras and sensors, to mitigate blind spots.
The Direct Vision Standard
Research into the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for transport began in 2016. The DVS was conceptualised as a safety initiative to improve the visibility of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) from the driver's perspective. This reduces the risk of accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users.
The standard assigns vehicles a star rating based on how much direct vision the driver has from the cab.
Transport for London (TfL) in the United Kingdom pioneered the concept of the DVS by commissioning Loughborough University to carry out research led by Dr Steve Summerskill, a senior lecturer and researcher at Loughborough in industrial and ergonomic design. The DVS was formally introduced as a requirement for all HGVs over 12 tons operating within Greater London from March 1, 2021. This was all part of the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero Plan to eliminate all deaths and severe injuries on London’s transport network by 2041.
The EU General Vehicle Safety Regulation
But it’s now gone further than the UK. Following the adoption of the EU General Vehicle Safety Regulation, 29 countries, including every EU member state, are also adopting a UNECE Direct Vision Standard for new trucks from 2026 (and all existing trucks from 2029), thus ensuring vehicles operating in city centres provide better vision for the driver.
Speaking about the new standard, Dr Summerskill said: “For years, we have been focussed on highlighting just how poor current truckdriver vision is and the risk it poses to vulnerable road users. Thanks to organisations such as Transport for London, we were able to drive change in London, ultimately leading to a new European standard. It is no exaggeration to say that this change will save the lives of countless cyclists and pedestrians. I’m incredibly proud that our work has been able to play a part in this.”
The all-electric Volta Zero
Alongside being all-electric, the Volta Zero was designed to be safe, with urban road users, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers in mind. This is because the driver of a Volta Zero sits in a central driving position, rather than to the left or right, and far lower than in a conventional truck, with their eye-line at around 1.8 metres. This is the same height as pedestrians and other road users for accessible visual communication between the driver and others in the urban environment. The Volta Zero’s glasshouse-style cab (pictured) provides a panoramic view of the surroundings with a wide 220-degree field of direct visibility. It is further enhanced by camera technology providing 360-degree coverage of the vehicle’s surroundings.
Ian Collins, Chief Product Officer at Volta Trucks, said: “With the design of the Volta Zero, we had the chance to start from a blank sheet of paper. We wanted to produce an electric vehicle, but we also wanted to address the safety issues that we see every day when trucks are operating in built-up environments. From the very start of the project to create the Volta Zero, we have been very much informed by the research that Loughborough has done. We are pleased to see that this is now being adopted as an industry standard across Europe.”
Volta claims the Zero is the “world’s first purpose-built all-electric 16-tonne vehicle” designed for urban logistics, reducing the environmental impact of freight deliveries in city centres. It offers an operating pure-electric range of 150 - 200 km (95 – 125 miles).
The company is also innovating with its Truck as a Service proposition, which it claims has revolutionised commercial vehicle fleets’ financing and servicing. The proposition offers fleet managers a frictionless and hassle-free way to electrify their fleet through an all-inclusive service for a monthly fee. It provides access to an all-electric Volta Zero, charging infrastructure by Siemens, insurance through Qover, and servicing, maintenance, and training requirements, maximising the uptime and operational efficiency of the vehicle.
If you’re involved in purchasing, leasing or operating commercial van fleets and are thinking of embarking on or about to embark on the electrification journey, don’t miss our LCV Expert Day to get valuable tips and advice.
There are many pressures facing commercial fleets right now, and safety is just one but an important one. Volta is setting new transport electrification and safety standards to help ease the pressure.
Images: Volta Trucks