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What is the electric truck impact on tire design? Penske, ATD pilot program aims to find out

Penske Truck Leasing and American Tire Distributors (ATD), an independent supplier of tires to the replacement tire market, have teamed up to introduce Daimler’s Fuso eCanter electric truck to Southern California tire dealers in Santa Fe Springs.

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David Sickels is the Associate Editor of Tire Review and Fleet Equipment magazines. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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Penske Truck Leasing and American Tire Distributors (ATD), an independent supplier of tires to the replacement tire market, have teamed up to introduce Daimler’s Fuso eCanter electric truck to Southern California tire dealers in Santa Fe Springs.

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The collaboration gives ATD an opportunity to add electric trucks to its fleet, and the company says it is the first tire distributor to pilot electric vehicles as part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.

The program gives Penske a chance to study the different components and application uses of the light-duty electric truck, and to gather feedback from ATD in areas like uptime, battery life properties, vehicle maintenance and driver acceptance, according to Paul Rosa, senior vice president of procurement and fleet planning at Penske.

ATD’s pilot program, which began at the end of August, was supposed to last just three months; however, both ATD and Penske have been happy enough with what they’ve seen so far that the program has been extended with no hard end date.

“Many of our top customers, like ATD, have been on the front end of green technology and sustainability for many years,” Rosa says. “ATD is a perfect fit because of the application they run. We wanted to go with a use case that has heavier loads to really test the capabilities of the battery and the electric motor technology. We want to work with customers that understand how a new technology needs to be approached.”

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The Fuso eCanter is the third electric truck line from Daimler Trucks to join Penske’s fleet, with the first two being the Freightliner eM2 and the eCascadia. According to Daimler, the eCanter has a guaranteed range of about 62 miles and can be charged over night with alternating current chargers or direct current chargers. Daimler says the charging time can be as low as approximately 105 minutes by using a fast charger.

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Bill Hancock, senior vice president of supply chain operations at ATD, says one of the goals for both companies is to collect enough data to speculate how components for these types of vehicles should be spec’d. One especially exciting data point they’ll want to watch is how an electric truck’s life expectancy will match up to its diesel-powered equivalent.

“Life expectancy on these vehicles is an intriguing topic for us as an organization,” he says. “They’re expected to have 50% longer life due to having fewer moving components, and that shifts your long-term cost of operation on a vehicle in a very beneficial way. That’s obviously important to any business.”

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As a tire distributor, Hancock says ATD is, naturally, particularly interested in learning about the tire requirements for electric vehicles of the future.

“The specific vehicle we have right now shares a chassis with an internal combustion engine vehicle, so the tires are not unique to an electric application. However, that is a big part of how we’re working with Penske: understanding how the tires wear in a higher-torque application like an electric motor,” Hancock says. “All of that input and feedback will help shape the future of tire requirements for electric vehicles.”

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