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Manufacturers continue to roll out electric medium-duty trucks

Peterbilt, Kenworth, Navistar, Daimler, Freightliner and Cummins are a few of the companies making recent leaps in electric medium-duty truck development.

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Recently, Frito Lay took delivery of its first Peterbilt 220EV, a model introduced in January. Plans at the PepsiCo division are to field six of the battery electric medium-duty trucks.

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“Frito-Lay is continuously exploring current and emerging technologies for our freight equipment as we work toward reducing PepsiCo’s absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030,” said Michael O’Connell, vice president of supply chain at PepsiCo.

The Peterbilt Model 220EV is powered by two TransPower battery packs with a total storage capacity of 148 kWh, and a Meritor Blue-Horizon two-speed drive eAxle with up to 335 HP. It features a range of more than 100 miles and a recharge time as short as one hour with a fast-charging system.

Including Frito-Lay, Peterbilt will have 15 medium-duty battery electric trucks operating in city delivery, regional haul and refuse applications and collecting validation data. The Model 220EV is one of several electric trucks undergoing testing by PACCAR, along with heavy-duty Peterbilt models and a Kenworth K270 medium-duty. Kenworth is also working on hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles with Toyota Motor North America.

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Moving into the electric truck market, Navistar has launched a new business unit called NEXT eMobility Solutions, and has announced plans to introduce electric IC school buses at the end of 2020 and International medium-duty electric trucks in early 2021. NEXT eMobility Solutions has already exhibited a prototype of the International eMV truck with an electric motor that produces peak power of over 474 kW—or 645 HP—and continuous power of 300 kW, or more than 400 HP. 

The eMV, according to Navistar, is designed to accommodate multiple battery capacity options that range from 107 to 321 kilowatt hours. The company adds that a 321 kWh battery in typical pickup and delivery cycles should be expected to have a 250-mile range on a single charge.

In December 2018, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) delivered the first Freightliner eM2 medium-duty electric truck to Penske Truck Leasing, which announced plans to put additional eM2 units into targeted service in its logistics, truck leasing and truck rental fleets.

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The Freightliner eM2 106, which will enter series production in 2021, features batteries that provide 325 KWh for up to 480 HP and a range of around 230 miles. The batteries can be recharged to around 80% within 60 minutes, sufficient for a range of about 185 miles.

As part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative, the Freightliner eM2 joins the Fuso eCanter in the North American market. The eCanter, a 15,995-lb. GVWR truck with a 151.6-in. wheelbase and an estimated maximum payload capacity of 9,380 lbs., is powered by a modular HV battery pack and permanent synchronous e-motor that delivers an output of 185 kW.

Engine maker Cummins is also working on electric truck solutions, including its PowerDrive portfolio that includes fully electric powertrain systems for medium-duty models. The Cummins PowerDrive EV is an all-electric system, designed to fit conventional OEM chassis, that features an electric motor and a battery that can be fully charged in under eight hours.

As manufacturers of medium-duty electric trucks move more swiftly from design and prototype phases into commercial production there are several factors for fleets to consider before adopting new models. One is the need to address regulatory issues, such as mandates to adopt zero-emission vehicles in specific regions or metropolitan areas.

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Other considerations include higher capital investment costs, which in some cases might be offset by the availability of grants, tax breaks and other incentives. Additionally, the range of different models, the availability of a charging infrastructure, as well as maintenance needs and costs are important to analyze before making any acquisition decision.

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