It seems like much of the news lately has focused on alternate-fueled commercial vehicles. I suspect that is due in part to the recent ACT Expo that took place in early May. Several traditional OEMs as well as newcomers to the trucking industry made announcements about their latest efforts in vehicle electrification.
The interest in EVs is evidenced by the fact that attendance at the event rose from 3,000 last year to more than 8,500 this year, according to show management.
There are plenty of people in the industry still skeptical about battery-electric vehicles, but I believe we have moved past the “if” stage to the “when” stage. To be clear, we are nowhere near seeing 100% of all commercial vehicles operating on batteries. There are some applications—especially heavy-duty, long-haul sleeper duty cycles—where electric vehicles will not work for a variety of reasons, including battery weight/range issues and the fact that there is not yet a nationwide charging infrastructure.
However, not all trucking is long haul. Many fleets operate in regional and short-haul applications. Plus, the explosion of ecommerce has led to the growth of local package delivery using medium- and light-duty vehicles.
In applications where weight is not an issue and where trucks can return to base to charge overnight, electric vehicles can and do work. Many technology-forward fleets already are testing electric vehicles in their operations. Government incentives are helping bring the cost of EVs down, and many state governments have set aggressive zero-emission goals for the transportation industry.
Those of you still waiting this out at least should start doing some research to see how electric vehicles make sense for your specific operations. Again, they may not be a good fit for every duty cycle, and you likely will have to operate some trucks that run on diesel as well as some that are battery-powered.
Interest and focus on battery-electric vehicles are not likely to subside, so don’t wait to learn more about them and whether incorporating them into your operations is the right move.
Jane Clark focuses on managing the member services operation at NationaLease as vice president of member services. She works to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups.