NACFE: Advancing battery technology boosts outlook for electric commercial vehicles

May 2, 2018
Commercial battery electric vehicles will not be a solution for every market, but will play a larger role in freight transportation, a new report said.

LONG BEACH, CA. Battery technology is improving so rapidly, it is becoming more realistic to expect faster adoption of commercial battery electric vehicles (CBEVs), according to a new report from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). 
Mike Roeth, NACFE’s executive director, said the guidance report issued on May 1 at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo is among the most comprehensive the group has released.
The increased capacity and decreased cost and weight of batteries is happening so fast, it “could spur increases in CBEV efficiency that likely cannot be matched by evolutionary changes to internal combustion engines,” the report said.

The report said the a lack of charging infrastructure is not a detriment, but instead  “an opportunity for market growth.”

At the same time, reliability of the vehicles will improve as existing manufacturers gain experience, and new entrants such as Tesla, Thor, and Chanje, further help “speed innovation through competition for market share.”

While there remain unanswered questions on maintenance and service costs, “feedback from medium-duty electric truck operators suggests that after separating out early failures, these vehicles have lower maintenance costs than diesel over the long run,” the report said.

NAFCE suggested that mixed fleets, with individual vehicles optimized for specific routes and duty cycles, will likely be the norm for several decades. The first adopters will be in the urban delivery segment, with predictable routes between 50-100 miles per day.

The overall report’s findings fall into the categories of weight, technology, cost, and charging/electric grid issues. More details can be found at NACFE’s web site.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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