Thinking ahead is something of a trait at Daylight Transport. Founded in 1977 in Long Beach, CA, the expedited LTL carrier started out in the business of hauling goods cross-country quickly when transit times averaged seven to 15 days.
But by building out a freight model based on driver teams, Daylight cut its transit times down to an average of two to three days over the last three decades or so. Expedited shipment schedules is what its customer base desired and what gave Daylight a leg up on its competitors.
Yet the challenge of competition never stands still in the LTL world, noted Greg Steele, Daylight’s executive vice president, which is one reason why, 30 years ago, the company’s owner purchased a broad tract of land in Fontana, CA. The motor carrier used this land to not only expand its operations but as a “laboratory” of sorts to help it find ways to reduce costs while becoming more “green.”
A year ago, Daylight built a 102-door cross-dock facility on that parcel of land in Fontana, but one with an “electrical” twist: Solar panels would generate 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to meet 85% of the building’s power needs.
According to Steele, now that the company was able to operate the Fontana terminal on electricity generated by the sun, why not operate some of its equipment on it as well? “We were halfway through the construction of our building when we started asking this question, about what more we could do,” he explained. “So we started researching potential grants and project opportunities.”
That effort eventually connected Daylight with not one but two electric equipment demonstration projects. The first involved deploying 42 all-electric forklifts at its Fontana terminal, while the second—forged in conjunction with the State of California’s cap-and-trade program—involved deploying three all-electric Class 8 yard tractors and a Class 6 all-electric service truck at Daylight’s facility in Fontana.
Steele added that Daylight began deploying those yard tractors and service truck back in March of this year, and noted that the carrier’s drivers like them because they are very quiet and emit no exhaust.
“Our yard tractors are open to the outside air and by being all-electric, our drivers don’t have to breathe in diesel fumes all day long,” he explained.
BYD’s Q1M yard tractor utilizes the OEM’s “proprietary” iron phosphate battery technology to enable the vehicle to operate for 15 hours of operation between charges with minimal battery degradation. Built at BYD’s Lancaster, CA, facility just outside of Los Angeles and compliant with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the Q1M’s gross combination weight rating (GCWR) tops out at 102,000 lbs.
BYD added that the batteries should still retain 80% strength of charge after 5,000 cycles, or 14 years, if cycled every day. The company claims the Q1M can generate up to $19,100 in annual fuel savings assuming 16 hours per day over seven days per week, with an additional $8,800 in maintenance savings per year as its all-electric tractor sports fewer moving parts, accumulates less brake wear, and requires fewer fluids to be changed.
BYD’s Class 6 all-electric 23,600-lb.-GVW truck, called the T7, also uses the company’s iron phosphate battery technology, is built at its Lancaster plant, and can purportedly achieve a range of 124 miles of range on a single charge.
The OEM calculates that the all-electric T7 can generate an annual saving of $8,200, assuming 100 miles per day and six days per week of operation, along with $4,600 in maintenance savings per year.
Daylight’s demonstration program with BYD’s three Q1Ms and single T7 is scheduled to last through April 25, 2019, Steele pointed out, and is designed in part to give the OEM “valuable feedback” in terms of improving its electric truck designs.