The year 2020 was the first time that fleets began to take delivery of electric trucks as part of pilot programs. Since we have already raced nearly to the end of 2021, FE checked in with fleets to see how their experiences have been 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.
In this entry of the series, we spoke with Quality Custom Distribution (QCD), an Orange County, California-based last-mile delivery fleet which has a Volvo VNR Electric in service already and has since placed an order for 14 more. The following questions were answered by Shane Blanchette, senior director of operations at QCD.
FE: How has your experience with electric trucks been so far?
Shane Blanchette: Experience with the Volvo VNR Electric has been great and drivers really seem to like it. There has certainly been a learning curve to maximize battery output, such as always keeping the regenerative braking on the highest possible setting and turning the vehicle off at every delivery.
FE: What kinds of expectations did you have for the trucks, and how have they performed in comparison? Was there anything that surprised you?
Blanchette: We are using the truck on a 14-stop local route with an average range of about 80 miles, hauling roughly 15,000 lbs. with a 48-ft. trailer. For us to scale this vehicle with our application and weight considerations, we need 150 miles or more in range, and we are working on ways to improve the range.
FE: How did setting up the charging stations and process go, and how has that aspect been so far?
Blanchette: Sourcing and installing the charger was simple. The Volvo VNR Electric battery pack cover is painted black and gets extremely hot during a hot day in the sun while charging. The VNR Electric’s fan overpowers a 25kWh charger while trying to keep those batteries cool. We learned to cover them using an easy-up tent or take the unit to our dealer, TEC Equipment, to charge on their 185 kWh charger.
FE: Why invest in electrification?
Blanchette: As a last mile distributor, the largest environmental impact we believe we can make is in the reduction of the usage of fossil fuels to reduce carbon emissions. With that, diversifying our fleet to support our sustainability goals is our primary focus.
We believe that consumers will align themselves and support (through their purchases) companies that are focused on sustainable practices. This will ultimately impact our customers as we are more of a “behind the scenes” entity. Therefore, we need to ensure we are doing our part to support our customers’ initiatives as well as our own, which is to be a company that cares about our planet and our future generations.