Electric yard trucks are an EV 'beachhead'

Electric yard trucks are an EV ‘beachhead’

Nevermind “beachhead.” I’ve even heard people say that the electric vehicle (EV) war is over in the yard tractor space, and it makes sense. Yard tractors are a perfect application for EVs. But it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves. Commercial EVs are still new and there’s a lot to be learned. Consider how they operate in cold weather climates. Diesel trucks have their fair share of winter weather headaches, particularly in the battery department. What happens when EV batteries are subjected to the same punishing conditions?

The EV truck’s performance shouldn’t be any different in cold weather, but what is different is the increased energy consumption that occurs from two primary factors: Heating the batteries and heating the cab,” wrote Zack Ruderman, vice president of sales and marketing at Orange EV in a recent story published at our sister publication, The Buzz.

“All Orange EV yard trucks come with built-in battery heaters that keep the batteries from getting too cold, even when there are sub-zero temperatures outside,” Ruderman continued. “Then using the in-cab heat will logically use more energy to keep the driver comfortable during colder weather.

Ruderman noted that Orange EV yard tractors have been in operation in Minnesota at temperatures of -33° Fahrenheit.

“As more and more data comes in,” he said, “it’s proving that as long as the right choices are made upfront and the right behaviors are implemented on-site, an EV yard truck can be superior, regardless of the climate.”

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Three EV maintenance, operation tips

Just like diesel trucks, electric yard trucks need the proper maintenance and operation to ensure optimal cold weather performance. We’ve charted the importance of diesel truck battery maintenance to maintain starting power, but Ruderman provided several key battery management and charging processes to keep electric yard trucks running.

Here are his three tips:

  1. When ordering electric yard trucks, select a battery size that allows for adequate daily range considering not just your typical duty cycle, but also seasonal peaks and potential cold weather lows.
  2. Keep your electric yard trucks plugged into their chargers when not in use – especially while unattended overnight or over weekends – so that the batteries don’t run down to zero from keeping themselves warm.
  3. Maintain as full a charge as possible during the shift by having the drivers plug the electric yard trucks into their chargers during breaks. Installing the charger near the driver break area is a critical factor to make this “opportunity charging” a habit.

“Through six years of deployments and trucks running in wintry sites including Chicago, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Ontario, Canada, these steps have led to proven success,” he said. “Any way you look at it, electric yard trucks can fit in perfectly with your current operations, even if they take place in a harsh, cold environment. Yard trucks are an ideal EV application, without any range anxiety, and supported by learnings and improvements from six years in market.”

This was just the tip of the proverbial, but metaphorically fitting, iceberg of cold weather electric yard truck operation. Click below to read the full story:

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