Meet Ben Anstey, Chief Engineer, Electrical and Control Systems for Volta Trucks, to understand how we translate new innovative technology into customer experience

By Duncan Forrester

What are the important elements of the customer experience in electric commercial vehicle?.

“Commercial vehicles perform a very specific task, and the cabin represents the workplace of the driver. As a workplace, it is imperative to consider all aspects of the functional design and human factors that lead to a safe, healthy, and efficient working environment. Due to the ground up approach we’ve taken thanks to departing from the traditional legacy cab-over-engine architecture, every decision can be made with the driver and functional usage in mind. Everything from the ingress and egress to the multiple touch points and seamless technology integration can be considered from first principles to determine the optimal solution to maximise the functional performance.”

How does the design of the customer experience in a commercial vehicle differ from a passenger car?

“Passenger vehicles tend to target a wide demographic of users, each with their own personal needs and expectations. This results in an amalgamation of complex features with an overly simplified front end and complex menu structures to configure all of the various options. Within the existing commercial vehicle space, there is a high level of after-market offers where products are isolated, stand-alone, and not integrated. For Volta Trucks, starting from a blank sheet of paper, this presents a great opportunity to create a seamless integration of the technology, taking advantage of dedicated screens and clear, intuitive interfaces to allow the driver to focus on their primary activity, whilst still having all of the functionality available without extensive and intrusive system interference.”

The cabin environment and user experience of the Volta Zero is clearly different to any other truck – what are the challenges that this premium driver experience creates?

“We need to understand the needs of the customer who has become very familiar with the existing legacy vehicle cabin design over many years. We therefore need to balance innovation with the usual utilitarian function to create a new paradigm in the sector. We are taking a bold new approach but choosing where to innovate is a fine balance to be managed. We also have to consider that the fleet manager is often not the driver, for whom the cabin represents their workplace environment. We believe that creating a premium environment and experience for the driver will also help support the operator of a fleet of Volta Zeros with the recruitment and retention of their drivers, giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In addition, the opportunity to bring a number of proven human-centric and best practice approaches from other parts of the automotive industry enables a high level of innovation which can grow over time as customers become more familiar with enriched functionality and less traditional interfaces within the commercial vehicle sector.”

Are there any sacrifices that Volta Trucks needs to make to deliver this premium customer experience versus the normal working environment most HGV drivers have been used to?

“The intentional decision we have taken to deliver a driver-focused working environment requires Volta Trucks to consider all functionality and use cases and provide an integrated solution. This possibly means questioning some elements of the existing aftermarket set up. As such, we don’t just need to understand the driver, but the needs of the fleet operator customer, their infrastructure requirements and how best to interface with systems. This requires a much broader understanding than just the vehicle itself. The benefit to the fleet operator is a truly integrated solution and driver centric approach versus today’s existing, generic product.”

When you see a Volta Zero driving on public roads later this year, what will you be most proud of?

“Knowing that the team has approached each decision with a driver centric mindset, it will make me very proud to know that beyond transitioning to a sustainable logistics solution, that we have improved the driver environment to satisfy the next generation of logistics operators.”