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If the European Union wants to achieve its common climate targets and reduce greenhouse gases by at least 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, one of the things that needs to be achieved is: Long-distance transport must become cleaner, and trucks and buses must move away from diesel engines.

That’s why the three largest commercial vehicle manufacturers, TRATON GROUP, Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group want to build a public high-performance charging network that will be available not only to their own companies’ vehicles but to all battery-powered heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches. In their statement of intent to build such a network, they emphasize that they want the project to “both increase customer confidence in electrification and make a clear contribution to climate-neutral transportation in the EU.”

A €500 million investment

On the basis of this agreement, the three parties plan to set up a joint venture based in Amsterdam, in which they will each hold equal shares. It is scheduled to go into operation in 2022. The initial investment will be €500 million euros, to be used to set up at least 1,700 high-performance charging points powered by green electricity near highways, at logistics hubs and at unloading points within five years. In the long term, the plan is for the number of charging points to be “significantly increased” with the help of additional partners and public funding. In terms of charging times, operators of fleets with battery-powered vehicles will have two options: They can either use the 45-minute driver rest period required by law in Europe for charging or they can charge overnight.

With this joint venture, the three partners want to “pave the way for the implementation of the European Union’s Green Deal for climate-neutral freight transport by 2050.” On the one hand, this means providing the necessary infrastructure, and on the other, focusing on green electricity at the charging points. This way, the TRATON GROUP, Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group want to provide assistance to truck fleet operators to switch to CO2-neutral transport solutions, especially in heavy long-distance transport, and thus “significantly reduce CO2 emissions in a short time.”

“Breakthrough in the transformation to electrification”

“For TRATON GROUP, it is clear that the future of transport is electric. This requires the rapid expansion of publicly accessible charging points, especially for heavy long-distance transport,” explains Matthias Gründler, CEO TRATON GROUP. “Together with our partners Daimler Truck and Volvo Group, we want to implement this high-performance charging network as quickly as possible. We are now taking the first step to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport without fossil fuels. The second step should be a strong commitment from the EU to fully roll out a charging network across Europe.”

To be carbon neutral by 2050, “it is essential that building the right infrastructure go hand in hand with the introduction of CO2-neutral trucks,” says Martin Daum, CEO Daimler Truck. Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO Volvo Group, explains that creating a European leader in charging infrastructure provides the foundation “for us to achieve a breakthrough in the transformation to electrification for our customers.” Also, thanks to the European Green Deal, the three partners will not only have an industry-wide consensus “but also a policy environment enabling significant progress towards sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions.”

Achieving climate goals together

According to an industry report published in May 2021 by the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), up to 15,000 high-capacity charging points are needed by 2025 at the latest and up to 50,000 high-capacity charging points by 2030 at the latest. With their charging network, TRATON GROUP, Daimler Truck and Volvo Group want to play a pioneering role in this and encourage all other industry players, governments and legislators to play their part in “achieving the defined climate targets together with a rapid expansion of the necessary charging network.”

The future joint venture must overcome a few hurdles even before it is established: Its founding is subject to regulatory and other approvals. But the agreement should be ready for signature by the end of 2021.

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