Has the spark gone out of e-truck manufacturing?

Volta joins a growing list of electric vehicle manufacturers who have pulled the plug on their vans and trucks.

Volta’s potential customers in its testing programme, included Marks & Spencer, DB Shenker and DSV with their engineering and development largely carried out in the UK. However, the collapse of its battery supplier Proterra (a maker of electric commercial vehicles) severely disrupted its supply chain.

The Banbury-based electric van pioneer Arrival announced it was laying off 800 of its UK staff and it plans to focus its new XL van in the USA where the market enjoys greater government subsidy.

Other companies who have gone to the wall nclude US-based Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS), which re-worked Wuling Chinese vehicles for the US market, and Lordstown, a high-profile pick-up truck manufacturer based in a former GM plant in Ohio.

It appears the UK and global demand for commercial EVs, particularly for urban deliveries, is not as great as anticipated. But in the UK battery electric van registrations grew 18.9% in August and a total of 11,414 zero-emission EV vans have been registered so far this year in the UK – up 16.4% on the same period in 2022.

Retailers and couriers seem to be buying EV versions of existing commercial vehicles, rather than new specialist vehicles from new start ups. 

The £100m investment made in EV production at a former GM plant at Ellesmere Port has seen the production star on the Vauxhall Combo Electric, Opel Combo Electric, Peugeot e-Partner, Citroën e-Berlingo and Fiat E-Doblò vans.

The Essex-based electric vehicle company Tevva delivered its first 7.5-tonne battery-electric truck to Kinaxia Logistics in September 2022 and in January this year, it won EC approval for its new truck. Tevva has had its share of financial issues, and a merger with ElectraMeccanica has just fallen through, but vehicle deliveries continue.

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