As of July, 2021, the two biggest challenges to EV adoption are currently lack of sufficient infrastructure and range anxiety. That is, broadly speaking, a problem across all types of EVs. However, it’s especially significant for motorbikes, because they can’t carry huge, car- or truck-sized batteries. Energy storage and efficiency keep improving—just ask Energica—but one small OEM alone can’t turn the tide by itself.
Could massive cooperation between existing OEMs make a difference? With international power, funding, and influence on their side, there’s no reason to believe that it couldn’t. Over in the land of heavy commercial vehicles, Volvo Group, Daimler Truck, and TRATON (the parent company of Scania, MAN, Navistar, Rio, and Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus) just signed a non-binding agreement to codevelop a high-performance charging network for electric trucks and busses across Europe.
Under this deal, the three companies will form a joint venture based in Amsterdam, with operations to begin in 2022. The trio will invest $500 million Euros to develop a European charging network of at least 1,700 EV charging stations optimized for commercial truck and bus needs by 2027.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. You see, by kickstarting this infrastructure push themselves, the trio also plans to seek plan expansion via recruitment of additional partners, as well as public funding. By encouraging additional partners to join this project, the network can increase exponentially—and help realize the European Union’s Green Deal to create carbon-neutral freight transportation by 2050.
Now, requirements to charge commercial trucks and busses are not the same as those for passenger vehicles and motorbikes. Still, welcoming other partners into the fold leaves the door wide open to more companies that, like Volvo and Daimler, also have branches that already work in the passenger vehicle space. Also, even if more passenger vehicle-makers don’t join this particular venture, there’s no reason why they couldn’t take inspiration from it and form their own super-EV charging infrastructure group(s).
For as long as companies have existed, there’s been nothing quite like “Oh, my competitor is doing it, so I HAVE TO DO IT FASTER AND BETTER” to kickstart the eternal sport of competitive innovation. No one knows what the future holds, but seeing a move like this seems likely to be good news for EV infrastructure buildout for all types of vehicles, not just the commercial trucks currently being targeted.