All-electric heavy truck challenges the Arctic climate

Can electrically powered heavy trucks function in 44 °C below zero in northern Sweden? Kaunis Iron is now collaborating with Vattenfall, Volvo Trucks, ABB and Wist Last & Buss in a unique pilot project to develop a sustainable logistics system for the future.

It is a vision of Kaunis Iron to develop the world’s most sustainable iron ore. One of the biggest challenges in achieving that goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the heavy transports of the ore, that today take place via trucks in the first stage before trains take over. A comprehensive study of different alternatives has led to a pilot test with fossil-free electrical power. Now a collaboration cluster has been started to put in place a pilot test on-site in Pajala, north of the Polar circle in Sweden.

Kaunis Iron, Vattenfall, Volvo Trucks, ABB and Wist Last & Buss are collaborating, and the project is part of the letter of intent recently signed by Kaunis Iron and Vattenfall to develop electrified fossil-free mining operations.

Lars Wallgren, logistics manager, Kaunis Iron:
“This type of challenge cannot be solved by any single stakeholder. Industrial innovation calls for collaboration between experts. It is therefore pleasing that we have managed to assemble such a strong team to challenge the Arctic climate with electrically powered heavy vehicles. It then becomes simply a challenge… As they say ‘those who walk in someone’s footsteps can never take the lead’. Here we are taking the lead, together. We periodically drive our heavy vehicles in extreme winter cold. If the technology works here, it will probably work everywhere.”

Maria Lindberg, Manager, Heavy Electrified Transport at Vattenfall:
“Our fossil-free electricity and services for charging infrastructure, where we install, operate and maintain charging functions, play a self-evident role in the development of electrified transport, and we are very pleased with this cooperation. Here, we have the opportunity to develop an aspect of fossil-free mining operations, a step towards achieving a fossil-free society and basic industry.”

Volvo Trucks is contributing with its own heavy truck, an all-electric Volvo FMX prototype, to evaluate how battery-electric trucks including charging systems function in Arctic conditions.

Ebba Bergbom Wallin, Commercial Electromobility Manager, Volvo Trucks Sweden:
“It is very valuable to us to be able to develop our products in collaboration with our customers. Customer collaboration projects are important in our product development process. So it will be exciting to monitor and evaluate Kaunis Iron’s testing of our all-electric Volvo FMX in an Arctic environment. It will help us assess how battery-electric trucks can be used to increase efficiency and reduce climate impact in extremely cold conditions.”

Part of the testing includes the charging infrastructure, which must efficiently manage charging the truck in the operational cycle.

Eva Kvist Östgren, Head of EV Charging Infrastructure at ABB Electrification Sweden:
“We are pleased to be part of this project to test whether it is feasible to operate heavy vehicles in extreme environments with electricity as the sole power source. ABB’s three high-power chargers use well proven technology, they provide fast charging and can be used for both heavy vehicles and cars. Together with the project partners we provide important input to minimise the use of fossil fuels and to enable a community with low-carbon dioxide emissions.”

Kajsa Friberg, Sales Manager Region North, Wist Last & Buss:
“Wist Last & Buss and Kaunis Iron have a collaboration agreement on ore transport which stretches many years into the future, where development is a cornerstone in our cooperation. Experience from this unique project to approach carbon dioxide neutrality through the electrification of trucks in the most trying of environments will bring new knowledge to benefit of the entire automotive industry. Our strength as an established Volvo dealer responsible for all of Northern Sweden is our capacity to adjust service solutions to the conditions. We carry out all regular maintenance and repairs of the ore trucks locally in Pajala and Junosuando, in close cooperation with Kaunis Iron’s traffic control division. That in itself ensures the best possible uptime for the vehicles and the test vehicle too will be in the good hands of our highly skilled technicians.”

Facts about the pilot project
Partners: Kaunis Iron, Vattenfall, Volvo Trucks, ABB and Wist Last & Buss.
Test period: February 2021.
Vehicle: Battery electric Volvo FMX.
Gross weight: 32 tonnes.
Pay load: Approx. 15 tonnes.
Driveline: All-electric, 400kW, 2-speed gearbox.
Battery: Lithium-ion with a nominal capacity of 264kWh.
Chargers: ABB is providing three high-powered chargers, each of 175 kW. The chargers are upgradable to 350 kW and have CCS outlets.
Vattenfall provides the charging service and support together with ABB.

Links to more information:

ABB’s website for electric vehicle charging infrastructure:
Vattenfall: Read more about our charging infrastructure services
Volvo Trucks website for electric-powered trucks: