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Volta Trucks Raises $260 Million to Scale Electric Vehicle Production

Volta Trucks just pulled in a cool 230 million euros ($260.6 million) in Series C funding as the maker of last-mile electric vehicles readies for the start of mass production.

The company said its latest capital infusion will be funneled toward vehicle prototypes and other engineering and business activities in the lead up to the start of production for the company’s Volta Zero 16-tonne electric vehicle.

The oversubscribed round, led by Luxor Capital Group, is “external validation” of the company, Volta CEO Essa Al-Saleh said in a statement.

The CEO went on to say the funding “gives us the financial runway to be able to deliver on all our goals as we transition from a start-up to a manufacturer of full-electric trucks.”

Customer prototypes are expected to be available in the middle of 2022 with manufacturing starting up in Austria at the end of this year.

Volta said it expects to begin mass production next year with 5,000 vehicles projected to be made. That will ramp to 14,000 in 2024 and as many as 27,000 in 2025, during which time Volta estimates its trucks would be on roads in Europe and the U.S.

Three other models—7.5-, 12- and 18-tonne versions of the vehicle—are also planned for the Volta portfolio, with the company saying it intends to continue developing those options with its new funding.

“The confirmation of our order book of over 5,000 vehicles, with an order book value exceeding 1.2 billion euros, gives us and our investors confidence that our pioneering product and service offering is both wanted and needed by our customers,” Al-Saleh said.

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Logistics firm DB Schenker, part of rail operator Deutsche Bahn, put in Europe’s largest zero-emission truck order when it signed off on 1,470 of Volta’s vehicles in November. The firm will put prototypes to use beginning in the spring of this year to test the vehicles in various delivery scenarios. The company said the Voltas will be used to move products from its distribution hubs, of which it will start with 10 in five countries, to customers in urban locations.

DB Schenker executive vice president of land transport Cyrille Bonjean said at the time of the order’s announcement that the Voltas would help the company “increase the pace of electrification of our fleet and invest in green transport solutions” as the company aims for carbon neutrality.

Results of those tests will then be used for when Volta begins mass production.

French refrigerated trucking company Petit Forestier also has a sizable order for 1,000 Volta Zeroes.

As orders and capital continue to grow for Volta, so too do its operations.

The company hired Steve Dichter as chief strategy officer in late January. The most recent hire comes as the company said it grew from a handful of employees last year to more than 200 at the close of 2021. Volta said its headcount is expected to triple in 2022.

“As we transition from a start-up to a manufacturer of vehicles later this year, we are tackling a range of large strategic projects and it’s great to have somebody of Steve’s experience supporting our journey,” Al-Saleh said at the time of Dichter’s hiring.

Volta’s one of several electric vehicle makers globally scrambling for share in the last-mile delivery space amid continued growth projections for e-commerce.

Research firm Brandessence estimated the global last-mile delivery market to reach $200.4 billion in 2027, which would reflect a compounded annual growth rate of 9.3 percent from 2021 to 2027.

A number of automotive startups and legacy companies have since clamored to develop electric vehicles to meet the demand from logistics companies looking to make their fleets more sustainable.

Rivian Automotive Inc. has attracted a large portion of the spotlight, with Amazon being its largest investor and a millennial founder and CEO with big aspirations aiming to shake up the global automotive industry. Rivian’s largest commercial order, from Amazon, is for 100,000 electric delivery vans.

Other relative newcomers to the commercial vehicle space, at varying stages of development, include Canoo, Electric Last Mile Solutions, Indigo Technologies and Xos.