Meet Carl-Magnus Norden, co-Founder of Volta Trucks.
By Duncan Forester | 17 December 2020

Can you tell us a bit about both your professional and personal interests that led you to co-found Volta Trucks?

"Personally, I think we have to act very fast to stop global warming and CO2 emissions. Instead of talking, at Volta Trucks, we want to do something very tangible. Trucks are big polluters so, by working in that sector, we can make a significant impact.

Professionally, in big technology shifts like electrification, there is an incredible opportunity that a small venture from outside the industry can contribute to change. You can see what Tesla did for cars. Volta Trucks can do the same for commercial vehicles.

I also want to see a company with a positive impact on the world that grows and thrives. Taking an idea from concept, to initial drawings, first product and then to market, is fantastically stimulating and rewarding. The same goes for building a dedicated team who satisfy customers and other stakeholders. Also making cities more liveable, and having a positive impact on the world, and the people living in it. The combination of doing good, and building a profitable company, is the perfect combination that should be every entrepreneur’s dream."

What was your vision for Volta Trucks, at its inception?

"Firstly, to be as fast as possible to market and start reducing CO2 emissions and global warming quickly. When I learnt more, I understood the damage in cities with NOX, particulates, and noise pollution.

Then, I realised the unacceptable statistics of accidents between trucks, bikes, and pedestrians. Also, the accident risks for truck drivers, which is an important reason for the severe driver shortage the industry currently faces. We are a very driver-centric company. We want to give drivers a good working environment that is as safe, modern, and pleasant as possible, and more akin to a premium car than a tired old truck. With an electric powertrain, we can reduce noise and vibration, which reduces stress and tiredness. This, in turn, reduces the risk of accidents, which is good for the driver, the people around the vehicle, and the fleet operator. Having Volta Zero vehicles on their fleets should support our fleet operators with recruiting and retaining the best drivers and give them a competitive advantage over fleets using existing legacy vehicles.

And finally, I understood the fleet operators’ hesitation to start using trucks based on electrification technology they are not familiar with. With Volta Trucks, we needed to create a level of service that supported them and mitigated all their perceived risks and problems.

Bringing all this together, we needed to produce the truck and the service model that will make our cities safer, and more enjoyable, for all inhabitants and visitors. And that is what we are doing.""

What is your vision for how electric trucks deliver on sustainability?

"Short-term, electric trucks reduce tail-pipe emissions, and hence improve the local environment. The second, and globally more important factor, is to look at the emissions in the whole supply chain. This is something we have started by using natural fibre composite materials, but we have to do much more by working with our suppliers. Most suppliers want to reduce the carbon footprint in their processes, and we have to work together, in partnership, to find further reductions.

Another aspect is how we design, build, and maintain our trucks. By designing and manufacturing for maximum lifetime, and the minimum servicing and maintenance, we contribute to sustainability. The same goes for how we think about product at the ‘end of life’. Can we re-use parts? Is there the opportunity for a second life for our materials? Our long-term goal is to monitor the full supply chain, monitor active duty-time, and the impact of the truck at its ‘end of life’, so we can tell our fleet operator customers or their end- customers, that 1 kg transported 1 km on a Volta Zero, has limited total environmental impact. We want to give our customers the tools to measuring their own sustainability, and help them improve their ability to measure outcomes, according to the principle: ‘what you cannot measure, you cannot control’.

Our business model, ‘Truck as a Service’ (TaaS) is perfectly suited for sustainability. The classic model for a vehicle manufacturer is to produce products needing a lot of servicing and maintenance, and also many spare parts. A very big part of their profit comes from servicing, maintenance and spare parts (as anybody who takes their private car for a service will know). So, the less servicing and spare parts required in an electric vehicle is good for our customers’ bottom line.

So, profitability and sustainability go hand-in-hand for Volta Trucks."

Does safety and sustainability sell trucks?

"More and more consumers care about sustainability. Cities and governments are following in the same direction. B2C companies, consumers goods producers, retailers, fleet operators and their employees are all listening.

The problem is that there are currently not enough viable electric trucks for them to buy. Here, Volta Trucks can, and is, leading the way. We hope that the rest of the industry will increase their pace of change so together, we can give our beautiful planet a chance to survive."

Does the 16 tonne Volta Zero help to remove other truck from the roads?

"As the customers of our trucks will primarily transport quite heavy goods, like frozen food, white goods, furniture, etc, weight carrying capacity is important. A normal 3.5t electric truck can seldom carry more than 1,000 kg of payload. One of our trucks can carry 5-6,000 kg of payload. So, for heavy goods, we can replace five to six smaller 3.5t ton trucks with one Volta Zero, which will reduce congestion considerably. Also, for fleet operators, it is a big win, as they can reduce their number of vehicles, and number of drivers, that will also have a positive effect on their profitability."

Is Volta Trucks as much about a service offering, as it is about the manufacturing of trucks?

"Our ambition is to produce the safest and most environmentally friendly truck driving in the world's cities. But, long-term, we think our service offering, TaaS, will be our biggest differentiator, value creator, and contributor to our customers."

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