Are e-trucks sustainable today? yes!
Many people think electric trucks can’t do the job — they won’t have a long enough range, they’ll be too heavy, and truckers won’t like them. However, this is far from the truth. “The presentation of the problem is wrong,” said Dave Mulaney, director of the Marshall Islands Institute. It is true that electronic trucks cannot do certain things, “but not every truck should be able to do everything. Different trucks operate differently and there is opportunity in this diversity. While electric trucks are not yet capable of operating in all conditions, they are They can effectively replace up to half of the trucks on the road today,” he adds.
Let’s take a look at what trucks have to do and why electric trucks can do the job.
Trucks must cover certain distances reliably. A recent RMI report showed that the majority of medium-duty trucks and about half of heavy-duty trucks in New York and California travel short distances that could be replaced by electric trucks on the market today. “Heavy-duty class 8 tractors are the most demanding of any truck segment considered for electrification,” said Rick Mihlick, Director of Emerging Technologies for the North American Council on Freight Efficiency (NACFE). “Battery-powered electric vehicles cannot replace all diesel engines, but they can replace a large proportion of regional transportation vehicles where drivers and trucks return to base each day or where daily distances are not very long.”
Trucks must be able to transport heavy loads. While it’s true that electric trucks will be heavier, about 75 percent of the time, trucks fill their cargo space before they reach their carrying capacity. Additionally, there is a federal 2,000-pound weight waiver for electric vehicles to offset heavier powertrain components, and California has also increased its weight limits.
“The truck is also an office,” Mulaney says. “The worker has to be happy with his taxi, otherwise he just quit. Retaining drivers is a big problem in trucking.”
“They don’t vibrate, they don’t smell, they speed really well, so you’re not always slow at the red light,” Mulaney says. “Drivers don’t come home tired at the end of the day or feel like they’ve been working with a jackhammer for the past eight hours.”
Donald Desisa, Penske’s driver, agrees. “The truck is very quiet, everything is fine. It gives you time to focus on what’s going on around you. With diesel trucks, there’s rattling, driver fatigue, and things you don’t even know happen. But once I got into the electric truck, I realized this was the way of the future, as he says.
Trucks must earn money for their operators. Unlike a car, a truck is an investment. It’s not very far at the moment. As batteries get cheaper and more efficient, this is where the economy comes in. However, in the meantime, we need to create a framework to improve the economy. We can consider California a great model.
The state of California and its utilities have some programs that make electric trucks commercially viable:
These price incentives drive sales aggressively.
What’s Next? View behind the car
We now know that technically, a truck can do the job. “These things can last a long time, carry weight, and make a rider happy,” Mulaney says. “But for electric trucks to succeed, we need to look beyond the car.”
A critical step is to strengthen the political framework. Here, too, we can look at California. Besides HVIP and LCFS, the country has two other regulations that support market development.
- The Advanced Clean Truck Regulation (ACT) requires truck manufacturers to sell an increasing proportion of zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) so that by 2050, 100% of all sales of new medium and heavy trucks will be ZEVs.
- The Advanced Clean Fleet Slate requires fleets to operate an increasing proportion of their fleet electrically.
However, we can’t count on California pulling these things alone out of line. Fortunately, other countries are starting to act. Another 14 states and Washington, D.C. have signed memoranda of understanding to comply with the ACT guidelines. This means that nearly half of all trucks in the United States will fall under the ACT framework.
But while policy is key to speeding up adoption, it will only work if the grid is able to provide enough power to charge all those vehicles. Expanding the network infrastructure will be critical. “We know the grid will eventually be able to handle all future electric vehicles, but it will take time and money,” says Mark Dyson, managing director of RMI. “There are many challenges ahead that, while not trivial, are not insurmountable.” Fortunately, there is a massive influx of new funding for US grid infrastructure, and with smart charging and new technologies, electric vehicle charging could already become a single grid asset.
So yes, electric trucks can get the job done. And we’ll see a future where we move our shipments without emissions. But transportation electrification is not just about the vehicle. Now we need to beef up both the policy and the network to get electric trucks across the finish line.
© Rocky Mountain Institute 2021. Released with permission. Originally Posted at RMI Out. Written by Laurie Stone
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