Photo: Volvo Trucks North America
082019 Volvo Vnl Truck On A Highway

Connecting regional haul and electric trucks with a helping hand

May 20, 2020
The philanthropic community has seen how important the next several years will be to moving forward with the deployment and adoption of electric trucks in commercial applications.

In the past year or so there has been a lot of talk about the growth of regional haul operations. As a result, NACFE decided to focus some of its energy on gaining a better understanding of this market.

The result of our efforts was a thought leadership piece, More Regional Haul — An Opportunity for Trucking? We identified 10 trends in regional haul. Plus we conducted Run on Less Regional, a fuel efficiency demonstration in which 10 trucks in a variety of regional haul operations achieved an average 8.4 mpg over the course of the event. It also is giving us an opportunity to deeply study the various use cases and fleet operations in this oftentimes misunderstood segment. We will publish a report this summer with our findings.

At the same time, we were also doing a lot of work on electric trucks and produced four Guidance Reports on various aspects of electric trucks from helping determine where they make sense, to looking at total cost of ownership to exploring charging infrastructure to determining the viability of electric vehicles in Class 7 and 8 applications. These reports are significant and free for anyone to read and use.

Maybe it was that these three efforts were going on at the same time, but it soon became clear that there is a connection between regional haul and electric vehicles. Or it could just be that the connection is just so obvious since many trucks in regional haul applications travel shorter distances and return to base on a daily basis.

Regardless of why, there is no disputing the fact that regional haul and electric trucks mesh up nicely. Now, we are not naive enough to think there are not challenges that need to be overcome, and we know that more work needs to be done to understand both regional haul and electric trucks.

NACFE is not the only one that is seeing this connection nor the only one that understands that there are still barriers to scaling electric trucks in regional haul applications. The philanthropic community has also seen how important the next several years will be to moving forward with the deployment and adoption of electric trucks in commercial applications. Often philanthropic dollars are aimed at trying to influence policy rather than market changes.

That is one of reasons NACFE was delighted to get funding from both The Hewlett Foundation, a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world, and Climate Works, a team of researchers, strategists, collaborators, and grant-makers who are committed to climate action and believe in the power of collective philanthropy.

Change always goes more smoothly when industry stakeholders are involved and over the course of the next three years thanks to the generosity of these two organizations NACFE is going to be able to continue to do work that we hope will move from 1% to 5% to 10% and then to 30% of the trucks being electric in the next 10 years, likely most of those trucks being used in regional haul applications.

It’s going to be an interesting 10 years, and we are glad to have partners like the Hewlett Foundation and Climate Works onboard along with all of the trucking industry stakeholders to make sure the transition occurs in a way that makes sense for fleets while moving to zero emissions freight movement.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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