Photo: Volvo Trucks North America
Volvo Trucks Vnr Electric Nfi Truck Trailer

Half is still impressive when it comes to Class 8 regional haul tractors

May 25, 2022
Despite NACFE lowering estimates of how many vehicles are electrifiable, there is still reason for optimism.

Half of heavy-duty regional-haul tractors are electrifiable today. Half. That is pretty impressive. Even though Class 8 tractors are the most challenging market segment to electrify, battery-electric vehicles could replace a significant share of them operating in regional-haul operations today. This is especially true in duty cycles where loads cube out rather than weigh out and for heavier loads where daily travel distances are not great.

We determined this when evaluating data from the four heavy-duty regional-haul tractors that participated in last fall’s Run on Less – Electric. The four fleet-OEM pairs in the Run were Anheuser-Busch with a BYD 8TT tractor, Biagi Bros. with a Peterbilt Model 579EV, NFI with a Volvo VNR Electric, and Penske with a Freightliner eCascadia. We supplemented what we learned in the Run with interviews with industry experts and further research into that market segment as we worked on our third of four market segment reports, "Electric Trucks Have Arrived: The Use Case for Heavy-Duty Regional Haul Tractors."

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We concluded that if 50% of the market moved to electric vehicles, it would eliminate nearly 29.4 million metric tons of CO2e annually (e equals carbon dioxide equivalent). Prior to the Run we had thought that 70% of the market would be electrifiable, but the more detailed analysis made us revise our estimate to 50%.

NACFE has always prided itself on its real-world focus to its work, and this adjustment to 50% reflects what is possible today for heavy-duty regional-haul tractors. We know there are benefits and challenges to electrifying the heavy-duty end of the trucking industry. However, we are confident that at least in the regional-haul sector we will continue to see use cases that make sense for electric vehicles as the technology evolves and develops.

Fleets are continuing to work with electric vehicle manufacturers to get the trucks to where they can see more widespread use. However, I’m still excited that 50% of Class 8 regional-haul tractors could go electric right now. That’s a pretty big deal.

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. 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.

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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