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3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - truck carrying produce on road - Parker HannifinThe U.S. transportation industry is rapidly evolving to meet the demand for clean energy. And for design engineers working at the forefront of truck electrification, this represents an opportunity to create a level of technology and performance that will move the country closer to decarbonization and a more sustainable future. But what are the barriers, motivators and strategies for accelerating the electric transition? What can engineers who are challenged with developing commercial battery electric vehicles do now to help? 


3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Evolving Landscape of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Parker Hannifin - Parker Hannifin

For detailed survey and research study reports as well as additional strategies design engineers can take to address challenges, download the full white paper, "The Evolving Landscape of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks"

 

 


Environmental goals / emission regulations

A recent poll shows that Americans' concerns about climate change have surged to record levels1. The latest release of the 4th National Climate Assessment (NCA4) report2 further confirms their fears:

"Without substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will hurt people, economies, and resources across the U.S."

—  4th National Climate Assessment (NCA4)

This message is resonating with OEMs and fleet owners. In fact, a 2018 UPS/GreenBiz study of over 3,800 truck and related transportation leaders found that 83 percent of large organizations and government agencies are motivated to electrify their fleets. Moreover, tightening emissions targets along with increasing mandates to ban fossil fuel use by 2030 are pressuring the global transportation industry to move away from diesel engines3

 

Technology and infrastructure

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - long haul truck on snow covered road - Parker HannifinTechnology advancements like commitments by vehicle manufacturers to develop e-trucks and improvements in batteries as well as charging infrastructure are key components to the successful proliferation of commercial vehicle electrification.


eTruck supply

According to a McKinsey study, it will take time before the industry will offer a large portfolio of e-Trucks. However, both new and legacy automakers are now taking orders and in some cases delivering purpose-built eTrucks4

 

Battery development improvements

Electric vehicle batteries are continuously improving from both a technology and cost standpoint, according to the 2018 UPS/GreenBiz research study. Additionally, the 2018 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Electric Vehicle Outlook reports that the average lithium-ion battery price dropped by 79 percent from 2010 to 2017, and battery average energy density improved at 5-7 percent per year during that time5.


Charging infrastructure 

Charging infrastructure is one of the largest unknowns and sources of anxiety for fleets considering near-term adoption of battery electric vehicles, as stated in a report by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE)6

McKinsey reports that while the light- and medium-duty truck segments may leverage the growing passenger car-charging infrastructure, major technology upgrades will be needed to charge heavy-duty, long-haul trucks efficiently. 

The UPS / GreenBiz report cites a comment by Mike Whitlatch, vice president of global energy and procurement at UPS, who notes that:

"A significant increase in the demand for charging electric vehicles could require increased electrical capacity five to ten times greater than what’s existing at a given site. A growing number of utilities — particularly in California — are offering make-ready programs to ensure facilities have the needed electrical distribution infrastructure. They're providing incentives and prioritizing infrastructure upgrades according to customer requirements. Such collaboration is a win-win for both parties. Many utilities believe that a fleet of electric vehicles can act as battery storage assets to help balance the power-grid, important in a largely renewable, energy-powered future."

— Mike Whitlach, vice president of global energy and procurement at UPS, UPS/GreenBiz Report.

 

Total cost of ownership (TCO)

Fleet owners are examining TCO as a major factor in determining whether to invest in electric trucks. According to one assessment by GTG Technology Group, the total cost of owning an electric truck will be less than that of a diesel truck. They estimate the difference to be approximately $0.15-$0.25 per mile. That said, operating an electric truck will be more cost-effective over time, even with larger initial vehicle investment, primarily due to fuel savings7.

Additionally, the GreenBiz web survey showed that 64 percent of respondents saw the potential for a lower TCO based on reduced fuel costs as well as reduced maintenance and supply costs. Electric vehicles have fewer and less complex parts compared to their diesel counterparts. 

 

What design engineers can do now to help

Below are insights, resources and considerations to help engineers tackle the challenges of electrification.


Environmental considerations

  • Work with upper management to identify and leverage electric vehicle development incentives. What can you do to help your company obtain these?
  • Stay up to date on emissions standards. Is there a way to better the air quality standards and create a vehicle with significantly lower emissions as a competitive advantage for your company? 


Battery technology and more efficient charging

  • Gain a deep understanding of battery performance, range, material advantages, and the evolution of product offerings across weight classes.
  • Can current battery technology meet the needs of the trucks you’re engineering today? 
  • Are you familiar with solid-state batteries? Is anyone at your organization working on what to do with the spent cores? Can they be repurposed to prevent used batteries from becoming a landfill problem?
  • Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy storage technologies have yet to scale to provide more widespread commercial use and functionality. 
  • Recent vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy storage technology deployments are showing promise to provide widespread commercial use and functionality. Is the vehicle you’re working on capable of V2G? How will V2G impact vehicle batteries? What are the implications for OEM warranties?
  • Transformation to electrification requires a systems approach. Work with your suppliers, utilities and academic institutions to support better systems efficiency. Are more efficient motors under development? What do the utilities in vehicles require for more efficient charging?
  • Purpose-built electric vehicles are what’s selling now, serving as test cases for further widespread electrification. What is your company doing now with electric light- and medium-duty vehicles and electric buses? What can you take away from their development to facilitate progress on class 8 electric vehicles? 


Overall cost

  • Design to specific use and TCO cases. Collaborate with customers to determine the tailored products that could break even today. To do this, you must understand the customer’s driving route, application, payload and the weather conditions in which the truck will be operating, as well as available charging alternatives. Do you have the support of management to help position your company as innovators?
  • Think out of the box. For example, the future e-Truck business model might rely on usage-based delivery models, providing delivery-mobility to the end customer instead of hardware4. How would a shift like that affect what you do? What can you do now to prepare for it?
  • Over 80 percent of the e-powertrain could come from nontraditional tier-one4 suppliers. What are you doing to identify and reach out to these companies? Alternately, what can you do to help motivate the traditional suppliers you trust to do more with e-powertrains?
  • OEMs will need to educate, train and enable both the dealer network and the fleets on the viability of truck electrification. What can you do to help management position electrification and sell the benefits of the technology and your design choices?
  • Want more specifics on TCO analysis? This “TCO Analysis and Case for Electric Trucks in North America, 2017 - 2030” report may prove helpful. Also, check out this link for a medium-duty electric truck TCO

 

Conclusion

Over the next decade and beyond, continued advancement in vehicle range and cost will drive the adoption of electric vehicles, while innovations in battery technology and alternative energies will help address infrastructure challenges. The further adoption of tightening emissions regulations, combined with increased governmental incentives and heightened consumer awareness of the negative impact of greenhouse gases, will provide additional impetus for the widespread adoption of e-Trucks. Design engineers who are willing to think differently and collaborate with all stakeholders in the e-Truck ecosystem have an opportunity to help move the country toward a more sustainable future.


3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Evolving Landscape of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Parker Hannifin - Parker HannifinThis post was adapted from a white paper "The Evolving Landscape of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks". For detailed survey and research study reports as well as additional strategies design engineers can take to address challenges, download the full white paper.


This article was contributed by:

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Brian Kostenbauer, field sales unit manager - Parker HannifinBrian Kostenbauer, field sales unit manager, Parker Hannifin

 

 

 


 

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Eric McCarthy, business development manager - Parker HannifinEric McCarthy, business development manager, Parker Hannifin

 

 


 

 

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - James Hazlett, account manager - Parker HannifinJames Hazlett, account manager, Parker Hannifin

 

 


 

 

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Robert Marotta global, account manager - Parker HannifinRobert Marotta, global account manager, Parker Hannifin

 

 

 


 

3 Factors Driving the Adoption of Commercial Battery Powered Trucks - Ronald Mesker, field sales unit manager - Parker HannifinRonald Mesker, field sales unit manager, Parker Hannifin

 

 

 

 

 

References

  1. Americans’ climate change concerns surge to record levels, poll shows. (2019, January 22). The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/22/climate-change-concern-americans-poll
  2. National Geographic. (2018, November). Climate impacts grow, and U.S. must act, says new report. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/11/climate-change-US-report0/
  3. United Parcel Service of America, Inc., GreenBiz Group Inc. (2018). Curve Ahead: The Future of Commercial Fleet Electrification. https://sustainability.ups.com/media/UPS_GreenBiz_Whitepaper_v2.pdf
  4. Heid, B., Hensley, R., Knupfer, S., & Tschiesner, A. (2017, September 26). What’s sparking electric-vehicle adoption in the truck industry? Mckinsey. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/whats-sparking-electric-vehicle-adoption-in-the-truck-industry
  5. BloombergNEF. (2018). Electric Vehicle Outlook 2018. https://about.bnef.com/electric-vehicle-outlook/
  6. North American Council for Freight Efficiency. (2019, March). AMPING UP: CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ELECTRIC TRUCKS. http://nacfe.org/emerging-technology/electric-trucks-2/amping-up-charging-infrastructure-for-electric-trucks/
  7. Whitehouse, J. (2019, April 29). How the Total Cost of Ownership of Electric Trucks Influences Fleet Decisions. GTG Technology Group. https://gtgtechnologygroup.com/how-the-total-cost-of-ownership-of-electric-trucks-influences-fleet-decisions/

 

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