The year 2020 was the first time that fleets began to take delivery of electric trucks as part of pilot programs. Since we have (somehow) already raced past the midpoint of 2021, FE checked in with fleets to see what their experiences have been like with these trucks; how the trucks have held up compared to their expectation; and whether they will consider investing further in electrification, among other burning questions.
If you missed any of the entries in the series, here is a recap of who we talked to, and what they had to say.
DHE has operated two Volvo VNR Electric models: one three-axle tractor and one box truck. They are also expecting delivery of a third truck soon, which has a battery with additional range.
“We dual use our tractors to make the best use of our capital investment. Until ZEV [zero-emissions vehicle] tractor range reaches 500-600 miles, regional box trucks make the most sense. I think it’s been pretty educational, and we did see a space for it,” says Troy Musgrave, director of process improvement at DHE. “Current technology can fit our regional box truck duty cycle and range for the most part in this terminal here in Ontario, California. And when we look at it from a broader perspective across the fleet of regional box trucks that we have throughout California, Arizona and Nevada, we see a consistent pattern. Somewhere between 60 to 70% of the routes that we run on a daily basis could be fulfilled by a regional box truck that’s electric.”
Manhattan Beer Distributors
Manhattan Beer Distributors took delivery of the first of five Volvo VNR Electric trucks on August 12. At a press event the day of delivery, fleet executives answered a series of questions on how they plan to use the trucks, what they’ve learned so far and their commitment to sustainability. Simon Bergson, MBD’s president and CEO, says that the ultimate goal is to replace all diesel trucks in the fleet with either CNG or electric within four years. Simon Bergson, MBD’s president and CEO, says that the ultimate goal is to replace all diesel trucks in the fleet with either CNG or electric within four years.
“What we’ve learned is by retrofitting these vehicles with air conditioning and backup cameras and all the safety features, the drivers in the area are realizing that even though it might be a little bit more physical work in the beer industry, it is a much nicer, quieter, safer vehicle. We are able to get some drivers to come through from other industries,” Bergson shares.
Penske Truck Leasing has been testing several electric trucks in its fleet, with the Freightliner eCascadia and the Hyliion 6X4HE Class 8 hybrid being among them.
Paul Rosa, senior vice president of procurement and fleet planning at Penske, describes the leasing company as “all in.”
“We’re going to do this,” he says. “We’re going to do this as fast as we can, where it makes sense, when it makes sense, because it’s what we need to do as a company, it’s what we desire to do for the environment. And it’s what our customers that lease vehicles from us want as well.”
Schneider received a Freightliner eCascadia day cab in the early part of this year as part of Freightliner’s Customer Experience Program. The fleet has been operating it in its intermodal drayage routes in Southern California.
“We do think the future is electric,” says Rob Reich, executive vice president with Schneider. “We really anticipate a lot more electric trucks in the fleet five years from now. We set a couple of our short and long-term sustainability goals, and our goal in 2025 is to have reduced our CO2 emissions per mile by 7.5% from rates last year. We think that will come from a combination of continued improvements to diesel, but also the introduction of battery electric vehicle trucks into the fleet.”