ACT Expo kicks off with big numbers, big zero-emissions vehicle challenges ahead

ACT Expo kicks off with big numbers, big zero-emissions vehicle challenges ahead

'Big' describes several aspects of this year's show, including the challenges. Here's what we heard at the kickoff.

The huge ballroom that hosted the ACT Expo 2023 kick-off keynote speakers was packed with standing room only in the back several rows deep. Erik Neandross, chief executive officer, Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (owner of ACT Expo) took to the stage to welcome the more than 12,000 registered attendees, including 2,500 fleets, buyers and end-user customers. “Big” is the word of this year’s show already–big attendance, big investments being made across the industry from all segments including manufacturers, suppliers and fleets, and … big challenges on the zero-emissions road ahead.

Here’s what we heard at ACT Expo 2023’s kickoff.

Regulator remarks

California made huge headlines of its own on the eve of ACT Expo with its Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule that, in part, lays out the regulatory framework to push fleets to full zero-emissions vehicles in certain applications, namely: Last mile delivery and yard trucks must transition by 2035, work trucks and day cab tractors must be zero-emission by 2039, and sleeper cab tractors and specialty vehicles must be zero-emission by 2042.

Wayne Nastri, executive officer, South Coast AQMD–the regulatory agency responsible for improving air quality for large areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Coachella Valley–took to the stage to put zero-emissions initiatives in perspective and provided context for efforts going forward. He explained that the best way to achieve infrastructure for zero-emissions vehicles, including hydrogen, is to work alongside government agencies such as the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. He said the South Coast AQMD has leveraged public and private partnerships to award over $140 million in infrastructure investments since 2022.

Here are his full comments:

Daimler Truck N.A. Pres., CEO John O’Leary talks infrastructure challenges, working toward solutions together

Electric vehicles are here, but the infrastructure to support them is not–that was the crux of Daimler Truck North America President and CEO John O’Leary’s keynote. Despite efforts to rapidly grow medium- and heavy-duty electric truck infrastructure from DTNA, other truck OEMs and various start-ups, O’Leary said charging infrastructure isn’t growing quickly enough to keep up with demand and regulatory standards for zero-emissions trucks.

“What we’re finding, or what our customers can’t find, is the charging infrastructure to run these products,” O’Leary said, speaking on the adoption of battery electric commercial vehicles. “Current lead times for DC charging depot projects are, in general, running over two years. Our customers–the nation’s fleets–can’t achieve the desired reduction in emissions nor can they realize the usefulness of these products if they can’t charge where those vehicles are domiciled when it comes to public charging for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles.

“Our company’s investments alone won’t be enough to hit the targets we’ve all set for this industry,” he added. “At Daimler Truck, we’ve calculated the dollar investment in charging infrastructure required to meet nationwide 2032 climate targets, and it will take roughly $52 billion just for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. That is the commitment required to meet the need for increased energy generation transmission and distribution, but it does not include the cost of real estate to cite those charger installations.”

O’Leary said that teamwork between the public and private sectors will be key to successfully moving fleets closer to zero-emissions technologies, but noted that diesel will remain a staple resource for the transportation industry for years to come as he called for a more concentrated, collaborative effort to face down today’s challenges.

“Diesel has dominated our industry and it has dominated our lives, driving our economies and humankind forward in immeasurably positive ways… We cannot operate under the delusion that zero-emission technology for this industry is ready to completely supplant diesel today, or that it will be ready to do it next year or even five years from now,” O’Leary said. “We cannot deploy a nationwide charging network by the end of this decade one multi-year site build at a time. We cannot run head-first putting the companies running the nation’s fleet out of business.”

Watch the videos above to hear from O’Leary and Nastri about the innovations that will be necessary in the trucking industry to ensure the U.S. power grid is robust enough and the nation’s ZEV-related infrastructure is resilient enough in the coming years to support the transition to zero emissions.

You May Also Like

FTR: August Class 8 orders up from July

August level of order activity continues to be below replacement levels.

According to the latest numbers from FTR, Class 8 orders for August came in at 15,400 units, up 16% versus July. Orders were down 26% year-over-year, but FTR says that comparison is a bit deceptive as last year’s numbers were exceptionally strong. July 2022 was the beginning of the run-up in order activity that continued through November and beyond, according to FTR, who said that the August level of order activity continues to be below replacement levels. Total Class 8 orders for the previous 12 months have equaled 294,000 units.  “As build slots start to open for 2024 production, fleets are starting to place orders on the books. However, much of the ordering for 2024 has yet to be seen and typically will not show up until September or October," said Eric Starks, chairman of the board at FTR. "Despite rising order activity, the year-over-year comparisons will look horrible through November due to record order activity in the second half of 2022."

Great Dane announces partnership with Slipnot

SLIPNOT products convert metal surfaces into high-friction areas that help eliminate slips and falls.

Southeastern Freight Lines opens service center in New Orleans 

The facility additions include enhanced office and dispatch spaces, new appointment warehouses, a bunkhouse, gym and more.

Carrier Transicold launches new Vector 8400R refrigeration unit

The Vector 8400R delivers efficient refrigeration and freezing performance in a space-saving, thin-profile design.

Volvo starts serial production of electric trucks at Belgium factory

Three different electric models will be built in Ghent: the Volvo FH, the Volvo FM and the Volvo FMX Electric.

Other Posts

Five truck trend takeaways from September

Let’s rewind and explore the pages of our industry playbook in this truck trends takeaway, just like the pros in the NFL. Run it back!

The benefits of ‘coopetition’ in the heavy-duty market

Industry players are aligning with diverse objectives and forging partnerships that tap into various CV segments.

Used truck sales uncharacteristically high in August

Compared to July, average retail price increased 1%, while miles and age both declined 1%.

Mullen’s first Class 3 production vehicles roll off the assembly line

Class 3 production capacity at Mullen’s Tunica facility is currently planned at 3,000 vehicles annually per shift.