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A Tesla Treatment For A Boring Old Box Truck

April 28, 2023
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In terms of delivery trucks, you can purchase one for about $100,000—these boxy vans that businesses like FedEx Corp. and the local bakery use to deliver goods between warehouses and shops. In recent years, however, a growing number of buyers have chosen to pay twice as much for their vehicles. The reason is that they are a lot more expensive than diesels. And once you take into account the fuel savings, you have a vehicle that is almost comparable to a traditional truck in terms of cost. Trade Algo, says the technology clearly works for this application, as do the economics, or at least that is what is happening now.

In the end, it is probably not the passenger car that will be the sweet spot for electric driving, at least not yet. Though batteries are now able to travel a great distance for road trips, they are still taking a very long time to recharge, just like filling a fuel tank. However, when you take a closer look at the middle ground, such as delivery vans, small buses, and the like, these factors are not nearly as crucial as they are for big 18-wheelers, which are too heavy and spend too many hours on the road. According to Trade Algo, by 2030, there will be over 250,000 electric medium-duty trucks sold around the world, or 15% of the total medium-duty trucks sold globally.

The outlook for sales of medium-duty commercial vehicles

In addition to their predictable routes, they often stop at multiple stopovers in addition to having regenerative braking, which allows them to constantly recharge their batteries (and save the drivers money on replacing brake pads) and their schedules usually allow enough time for overnight charging. There is no doubt that we are approaching a point where we will see such a clear benefit from electric vehicles that buying an internal combustion vehicle will be irresponsible at that time.” Giordano Sordoni, chief operating officer of Xos Inc., an electric truck manufacturer in Los Angeles, is expecting to sell around 600 electric trucks in 2014.

A recent law enacted by the Inflation Reduction Act helped e-truck makers sweeten up their sales pitch by providing up to $40,000 in tax breaks per vehicle, which was a sweetener to their sales pitch. It is also important to remember that state aid can be stacked on top of the federal funds, so in generous California you might be able to get as much as $120,000 in incentives for a medium-duty truck. As the Chief Executive Officer of Lightning eMotors, an electric-truck manufacturer located in Loveland, Colorado, Tim Reeser said, school buses can tap into a richer vein of support, with some buyers being able to obtain subsidies that cover the entire cost of purchasing the vehicle. A free bus, he says, is essentially what they are getting.

As a general rule, electric-truck manufacturers begin with a standard chassis that has been developed by Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Co. However, even though those automakers are starting to offer e-trucks, the transition has been slow due to the fact that electric trucks are often less profitable than their diesel counterparts. It leaves plenty of room for the upstarts to fit electric motors and batteries to the chassis. Depending on the customer, what goes on top, whether that’s a bus or a giant refrigerator, is a matter of choice.

As an example, Xos has built around 30 trucks for the Swedish company Loomis Armored US LLC, which transports cash between businesses and banks, and has just received a new order for 150 more. In spite of the relatively small amount of miles taken by the Loomis routes every day, Xos has added additional battery capacity to compensate for the weight of bulletproofing as well as powerful air conditioners to ensure that the guards in the body armor remain cool and comfortable. In addition, Motiv Power Systems Inc. of the San Francisco Bay Area, a manufacturer of portable power systems, has a new model that can be used to power auxiliary devices such as a hydraulic lift or a refrigerator whose power can be used for trimming trees or fixing power lines from its giant battery.

Considering that trucks account for only 5% of US cars, it makes sense that cleaning them up is necessary since trucks contribute to an outsized amount of emissions, despite the fact that they only make up 5% of all vehicles on the road. Combined with heavy-duty trucks, they generate about triple the amount of greenhouse gases created by aircraft in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

There are many companies that own them that have developed ambitious timelines for making their fleets greener, either to boost their environmental credentials or to meet state regulations. According to Tim Krauskopf, CEO of Motiv, which has been in business for 14 years and expects to build that many trucks again this year alone, companies anticipating regulations that are expected to take effect a decade from now need to start electrifying their fleets today. Since the typical life span of a truck is 10 years, companies anticipating regulations that take effect a decade from now must begin electrifying their fleets now. Taking a look at these goals from a long-term perspective, he says, "you better begin purchasing zero-emission trucks as soon as you can after they achieve 50% zero-emission trucks by 2027."

Cathy Hills
Associate Editor
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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