New group of leading fleets leverages collaboration to overcome barriers to truck electrification

Electric trucks are one of the most consequential climate investments companies can make today. These vehicles are increasingly available, able to do the job required of them, and fleets are embracing them.

As fleets make the transition to a zero-emission future — especially first movers — they are required to develop solutions to numerous challenges that electrification currently presents. This includes (but is not limited to) optimizing routes, designing charging systems that can fit within the operations of their current facilities, and engaging drivers around this new technology. It’s a daunting task.

To support fleets as they address this unprecedented pace of change, EDF has partnered with the North American Council on Freight Efficiency, RMI and CALSTART and have created the Electric Fleet Readiness Group.

This group is comprised of leaders from top private fleets that are deploying or exploring zero-emission electric class 6-8 trucks within their operations, including: Dependable Highway Express, Manhattan Beer Distributors, NFI, Pitt Ohio, and Anheuser-Busch, among other fleets. Collectively the companies participating in the fleet readiness group operate over 50,000 trucks and have already deployed over 50 electric trucks with announced plans for hundreds more.

Members of the Electric Fleet Readiness Group are working to accomplish four things:

  1. Advance zero-emission vehicle deployments within member fleets.
  2. Collect critical insights and learnings these leaders are gaining through deployments and share them with fleets at earlier stages of their electrification journey.
  3. Inform the design of public policies that will influence the pace and success of electrification in the trucking industry.
  4. Influence market offerings for heavy-duty electric trucks and supporting equipment.
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Over the last year, this group of industry leaders has developed guidance from a fleet perspective about how to design effective incentive programs that drive the procurement of electric vehicles; and the key steps utility partners should take to enable truck electrification within their service territories.

Success is led by collaboration and this Fleet Readiness group has provided a strong platform for industry leaders to collaborate with other first movers and enabled fleets to learn from each other and collectively move more quickly. We are grateful that these fleets are helping us learn about the challenges and potential solutions, too.

In addition, EDF, NACFE, RMI and CALSTART are helping to share these learnings across the industry and leading the effort to get more fleets started on their electrification journey.

Building on their electric truck Guidance Report series, NACFE and RMI recently hosted Run on Less – Electric, a technology demonstration that showcased real-world zero-emission freight movement by sharing the stories and key metrics of 13 fleet-OEM participant pairs who are operating electric trucks across the continent today. The Run also included an educational Electric Truck Bootcamp webinar series that introduced scores of fleets to the critical steps and challenges involved in electrification.

CALSTART, a nationally recognized non-profit focused on the acceleration of clean transportation solutions has created resources and tools that layout and knockdown the barriers and solutions for commercial fleet electrification, emphasizing how zero-emission trucks can contribute to achieving corporate climate goals. They also formed the national Zero Emission Truck coalition focused on driving greater investment in advanced zero-emission technology solutions. By means of their global Drive to Zero initiative, CALSTART aims to accelerate the growth of global zero- and near-zero-emission commercial vehicle space, with the aim of ZE technology becoming commercially competitive by 2025 and dominant by 2040 in specific vehicle segments and regions.

And EDF has been able to deploy Climate Corps® fellows with leading fleets, such as Houston Metro and Iron Mountain, to help these organizations advance fleet electrification projects. We have also worked with fleets to demonstrate how managed charging, battery storage and onsite electricity generation can reduce the cost associated with scaling EV charging at fleet depots.

What stands out the most through our discussions with these leaders is the excitement they have about the future of electric trucks. Despite being on the leading edge of deployment with all the headaches such leadership entails, these fleets are committed to unleashing the potential of zero-emission trucks.

We are happy to be along for the ride. Together, we can help transform the trucking sector.

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