Schneider National Inc.
One of the Run on Less–Electric Depot demonstration sites is Schneider's new South El Monte, California, charging depot.

Electric trucks, charging depots set for September shakedown

Sept. 8, 2023
Latest Run on Less demonstration, overseen by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, will run electric trucks and charging infrastructure through stress tests, mostly in California, to gauge their feasibility in real-world operations.

Though carriers, especially smaller fleets with last-mile operations, have made strides with decarbonization by converting parts of their operations to all-electric, a Sept. 11-30 shakedown could show the larger-scale feasibility of electric operations, their duty cycles, and how often they’ll need to return for charging plus the real-world, everyday demands on charging depots.

In an effort to help fleets understand the benefits and challenges of battery-electric trucks on a much larger scale, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) is conducting Run on Less–Electric Depot that starts Monday through the remainder of this month, mostly in California but also in New York City and Canada.

See also: NACFE sets out to study how fleet depots are scaling up EV adoption

The demonstration, the fourth in a series put on by NACFE, will track the activity of 21 EVs—including two heavy Tesla Semis—but also will closely examine total daily demand in charging depots for energy and fuel for all the trucks and what that will mean if all trucks at depots are converted to all-electric. Long-haul operations also will be tested during the demonstration, as this is the most skeptical segment of the trucking industry of the feasibility of all-electric operations.

“As trucking works on decarbonizing, fleets are investing in more electric vehicles at their depots, which brings with it many benefits but also some challenges, especially around infrastructure and charging,” Mike Roeth, NACFE’s executive director, said in a statement.

“Yet leading fleets are tackling those challenges and are giving us access to their operations so we can share what they are learning with the rest of the industry.”

The latest Run will feature a variety of trucks covering a full range of duty cycles:

  • At Frito-Lay’s Queens depot, two Ford E-Transit vans will be tracked operating in one of the most demanding urban delivery environments, a borough of New York City.
  • At OK Produce in Fresno, California, a Class 8 Freightliner eCascadia and an Orange electric terminal truck will be tracked in local fruit and vegetable deliveries and terminal tractor applications.
  • At Penske’s Ontario, California, location, a GM BrightDrop delivery van, a Navistar eMV, and a Freightliner eCascadia, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, respectively, will be followed.
  • At PepsiCo’s Sacramento, California, depot, two Tesla Semis will be tracked in heavy-load long-haul transport operations.
  • At Performance Team’s Commerce, California, location, two heavy electric Volvo VNR tractors will be tracked conducting short-haul routes.
  • At Purolator’s Richmond, British Columbia, hub, a Class 6 Motiv step van and a Ford E-Transit will be tracked in business and residential package delivery.
  • At Schneider’s new South El Monte, California, location, two Freightliner eCascadias, operating in slip-seated drayage uses, will be tracked.
  • At UPS in Compton, California, a Freightliner Custom Chassis MT50e last-mile step van and a heavy Freightliner eCascadia in a middle-mile duty cycle will both be tracked.
  • At US Foods in La Mirada, California, two Freightliner eCascadias will be tracked on their food-delivery routes.
  • At WattEV’s Long Beach, California, location, a BYD 8TT tractor and a Nikola Tre BEV tractor operating at the Port of Long Beach will be tracked.

In preparation for the Run, the NACFE team visited all 10 depots and interviewed 122 people about their experience with electric trucks. Fleet profiles with videos are posted on the Run on Less website and will be supplemented by Stories from the Run videos that will look at some of the main issues surrounding the electrification of fleets. “We will be updating the metrics daily and adding videos on a regular basis, so we encourage people to follow the Run to learn from these 10 pioneering fleets,” Roeth added in NACFE's release.

See also: What NACFE learned about hydrogen trucks

PepsiCo, which is No. 2 on the FleetOwner 500: Top Private Fleets of 2023, is executive sponsor of the latest Run on Less with Cummins and Shell as title sponsors as well as a host of companies that are event and supporter sponsors, according to NACFE.

This spring, during the run-up to Run on Less–Electric Depot, Roeth said the demonstration is “looking at how you scale electric trucks early in this journey. It’s about depot infrastructure. It’s about those trucks that return to base, most likely, every day or consistently. These are the early adopters who we’re wanting to learn about this year." The fleets will share information on charging infrastructure, engagement with utility companies, total cost of ownership, management, truck performance, driver and technician training, charge management, and more.

For fleets and other transportation leaders looking for even more on the electrification journey, NACFE also ran a free 10-session Electric Depot Bootcamp leading up to the event.

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