Heavy-duty: 2023 HDAW event theme is ‘Shift. Adapt. Grow.’
Electric trucks are out there all over the country – nay, the world – not meeting the battery range they should be expected to. Why?
There are plenty of possibilities. But I’m talking about the one no one is talking about. It’s not the trucks themselves, or range-saving add-ons. It’s not the charger or the various components like the tires. It isn’t even the charging pattern, when they’re getting energy, and how much of it.
I’m talking about driver behavior – and more specifically, driving habits, that can impact an electric truck’s range.
Now in retrospect, it really isn’t all that surprising. We’ve known for decades the way that driver behavior impacts diesel truck fuel efficiency. But electric truck range is under a microscope right now, with every fleet deciding for themselves if this new technology is right for their operations. As such, ensuring that drivers optimize an electric truck’s technology is of paramount importance.
The vast majority of today’s truck drivers are just used to driving diesel trucks. If a fleet asks that driver to move into an electric truck, suddenly some of the behaviors that were just fine – or perhaps we might have let slide – behind the wheel of a diesel can be pretty detrimental to the EV’s range. Regenerative braking is a great example, because if the driver wants to take advantage of this range booster, they need to be coasting to stops.
Interestingly, if you examine the first couple of weeks a driver is behind the wheel of an electric truck, the range results aren’t very consistent. It takes drivers some time get used to how it works – the brakes, the acceleration, the performance. They have to get used to things like how they can maintain their road speed up a grade – driving behaviors they just aren’t used to.
Believe it or not, regenerative braking can make or break – ha – make or break an electric truck’s real-world driving range – in fact, a driver’s habits can impact an electric truck’s range by as much as 10 to 15%, thanks to regenerative braking!
Some drivers have even shifted driving styles altogether, moving to one-pedal driving. This means that the driver uses the accelerator and counting on maximizing the effect of regenerative braking while coasting into stops by taking their foot off the pedal, never really touching the brake unless absolutely necessary. It may be a growing trend, but it doesn’t come naturally, and its effectiveness really comes down to a driver’s proficiency and their experience with the truck. It also means investing in training on the part of the fleet.