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Electric Trucks Report

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) created this Guidance Report to provide perspective, insights, and resources on the complex topic of the viability of commercial battery electric vehicles (CBEVs), Classes 3 through 8. This report provides a foundation for understanding the key arguments for and against this rapidly evolving powertrain alternative. This report expands NACFE’s role to include emerging new technologies that may not yet be available in production.
The fuel costs faced by the trucking industry are a significant part of the expense to operate a tractor-trailer in North America. Over the past decade fuel has been as high as $0.65 per mile driven and then dropped to $0.34 by 2016. At these two points, fuel costs accounted for 39% and 21% of the total cost of operating a commercial vehicle respectively. The price per gallon for diesel as of March 2018 has now risen to around $3.00 per gallon ($0.44 per mile) from the 2017 yearly average of $2.65. (Editor’s note: Canadian prices will vary)
In addition, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have enacted greenhouse gas emissions regulations on commercial vehicles extended to 2027 that require manufacturers to develop and sell technologies to improve efficiency. These factors have driven fleets, manufacturers, and others to improve the efficiency of over-the-road tractor-trailers.
Fortunately, myriad technologies that can cost-effectively improve the fuel efficiency of Class 8 trucks are readily available on the market today. While the industry continues to increase the adoption levels of these technologies, industry stalwarts and new startups are aggressively developing revolutionary new products such as electric powertrains for trucks and technologies that continue to increase automated operation. To assist the industry in these efforts, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) is expanding its role with Guidance Reports – providing information on emerging new technologies that may not yet be available in production.
Widespread innovation and technological advances are producing technologies and practices that could affect decisive, revolutionary, and potentially disruptive opportunities across the transportation industry. As novel concepts, new applications, and original modes of behavior reach the market, fleets and manufacturers need information on the benefits, challenges, and risks so that everyone can profit in this evolving landscape.
NACFE hopes that by fleet managers using its Guidance Reports in the months and years leading to launch, the first generation of production technologies will perform much better and offer better return on investments.
This Guidance Report on electric trucks represents the first in a subset of reports being published on emerging technologies. Subsequent reports will focus on specific product offerings for market segments, duty cycles, and relevant technologies.
The goals of this Guidance Report are: (a) to present the viability of Class 3 through 8 commercial electric trucks, (b) to discuss the pros and cons of this evolving alternative to diesel powertrains, and (c) to provide industry with the quality information needed to make sound business decisions on this rapidly emerging technology.
Electric truck arguments:
Battery electric vehicles for commercial applications are here today and are a growing alternative to traditional gasoline, diesel, alternative fuel, and hybrid powertrains. Opinions vary on whether this technology is a viable alternative to traditional powertrains; they are considered a threat by some and a promise by others. While considerable capital is being invested as a result of CBEVs, information is rife with biases and vested interests.
In research for this Guidance Report, NACFE identified some common arguments both for and against electric Class 3 through 8 commercial vehicles. The findings fall into several broad categories: weight, technology, cost, and charging/electric grid issues.
This report’s conclusions were generated through interviews with fleets, manufacturers, and subject matter experts with first-hand experience with battery electric vehicles and grid infrastructure. Fourteen fleets responded to a survey that was used to better understand their needs and plans with respect to electric truck adoption. An extensive list of references was researched with the same diligence and thoughtful processes NACFE uses with its Technology Confidence Reports. The references and links are provided at the end of the full report for those interested in more detail.
The full report is available at www.nacfe.org or contact Mike Roeth at mike@nacfe.org.
Provided by the NACFE. Copywrite © 2018 North American Council for Freight Efficiency. All rights reserved. The contents of this document are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of any product, service, industry practice, service provider, manufacturer, or manufacturing process. Nothing contained herein is intended to constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice and NACFE assumes no liability for use of the report contents. No portion of this report or accompanying materials may be copied, reproduced, or distributed in any manner without express attribution to the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

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