Volvo Trucks Chief Provides In-Depth Look at the Future

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【Summary】In an interview with, Keith Brandis, director of production planning at Volvo Trucks North America, provided some insight into the automakers future.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Nov 12, 2017 8:05 AM PT
Volvo Trucks Chief Provides In-Depth Look at the Future

If autonomous technology will drastically affect regular passengers vehicles, the new wave of driverless tech will have a more profound affect on the trucking industry. Various companies are looking into engineering all-electric semi trucks with autonomous capabilities, but Cummins, an American company known for its diesel powerplants, has taken the lead with its AEOS concept. The industry, though, is also patiently waiting to see what Tesla will release later this month

Another large aspect of self-driving semi trucks is the process of platooning, where the semis essentially play "Follow the Leader," which Britain hopes to test out on public roads in 2018. Volvo, which is a major player in the all-electric and autonomous semi truck movement, has large plans for the future. 

Volvo Thinks Tesla Will Have A Hard Time

In a lengthy report by, Keith Brandis, director of product planning at Volvo Trucks North America, provided some insight into the automaker's future plans. When questioned about Tesla and the company's ability to disrupt the trucking industry, Brandis claimed that things would be difficult for the electric automaker.

"I would say that as a commercial vehicle manufacturer, it's not easy to break into this business," said Brandis. "We know how much our dealers are invested to serve customers, how much it takes in terms of capital to put together heavy-duty manufacturing products and components alike." 

As far as Volvo is concerned, the automaker is working on electric applications, with the specific intent for "city, low-speed short-range applications" for its medium-duty trucks. While electric is the future for the trucking industry, Volvo still believes that diesel is king at the moment and is placing a lot of its efforts into researching technology surrounding oil burners. 

Electric For Tomorrow, Diesel For Today

"Diesel is still the main path for us in our research-and-development efforts, and we will continue to support that for the foreseeable future because we haven't found another fuel that is as energy-efficient," said Brandis. 

In regard to platooning and its use to kick off driverless tech for semi trucks, Brandis expressed how excited he was about the future. "We are excited about [platooning] for a couple of reasons," he said. "We have tested and have seen the aerodynamic improvements from running closely a couple of platooning trucks. It can be 10 percent or more fuel economy benefit for the second and third vehicles." 

Volvo, like other automakers, is being held back by the country's autonomous vehicle testing regulations, which haven't been ironed out yet. "We are also advocating for a federal standard," Brandis said. "There's no regulation on the books that allows us to do this, so we are working with the authorities and we know it has to be proven for many, many miles before we are willing to trust it." 

While reaching its goal of creating autonomous trucks will be a difficult one, Brandis believes there are a lot of upsides to chasing a self-driving future. "We can make drivers safer, and that is everybody's goal," he said. "We can illuminate many blind spots around the truck. We can help the driver see visually and with radar sensors that may alert them to things they may not be able to see."

Highways are much easier for self-driving vehicles, claims Brandis, but there's still a lot more work that needs to be done to get semis to drive themselves around cities. Human drivers, then, are here to stay for at least a little while, as getting large trucks to operate around cities will take a long period of time. 

To get the complete lowdown on Brandis' thoughts on the future of trucking, head over to to read his entire interview. 


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