Electric Vehicles Focused on Regional Markets

Upcoming North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) research into electric trucks will focus on regional trucking operations, which are expected to be among the earliest commercial adopters of the equipment, reports Truck News.

“Our research has shown us that regional haul is an important segment of the trucking industry and also one that makes sense for electrification — given its short-haul nature and return-to-base operation,” says executive director Mike Roeth.

From Truck News:

Picture trips that can be completed within a day’s drive and charging that can be completed in a fleet yard.

The three-year research project will also benefit from new funding through the non-profit Hewlett Foundation and the ClimateWorks Foundation.

“This is a big sector, and we’re just starting to understand this regional haul part of trucking,” Roeth explained during a briefing at the annual meeting of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC).

NACFE estimates that the U.S. has about 800,000 regional-haul tractors, which typically run about 65,000 miles a year. That accounts for 52 billion miles annually – about 10 times more than the annual miles traveled by transit buses or school buses.

Even one of North America’s largest fleets will benefit from the help.

“It’s really helpful for me to be able to rely on someone else in addition to my own team,” said Schneider executive vice-president and CAO Rob Reich, who also serves as chairman of NACFE’s board. “What are all those questions that historically we’ve never had to think of?”

Some of the first research will involve identifying regional trucking routes with a high potential for electrification, supporting deployments outside of California, scaling best practices in infrastructure development for fleets and communities alike, and increasing confidence in the value of electrification.

The routes with the highest potential are not expected to be limited to travel distances alone. Many could leverage financial support from states or communities that are interested in zero emissions, or utilities that are looking to maximize economic development opportunities, Roeth said.

“There’s so many benefits to these trucks that people are going to want to help to spur them along,” he said, referring to funding from California-based utilities as an example.

The regional hauls represent a growing share of North America’s trucking industry. Trends such as e-commerce, for example, have seen an increase in the number of warehouses and distribution centers located closer to end users. That leaves shorter trips between warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers to be completed.

Manufacturers are not yet taking orders and building electric vehicles in large volumes. But established OEMs are placing test vehicles into customer hands throughout 2020.

“The future,” says Roeth, “is coming fast.”

Full story here.

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