Charging infrastructure is key for New Jersey fleets to electrify

This is the first installment of a two-part blog series about zero-emission truck and bus charging infrastructure in New Jersey.

Electrifying transportation — particularly trucks and buses — is among the key elements New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan identifies to help the state decarbonize its economy by 2050. It is one of the most powerful ways to reduce pollution, improve equity and health and spark economic growth throughout the state. In 2021, New Jersey became the first state in the Northeast to adopt the Advanced Clean Trucks rule — requiring manufactures to produce zero-emission trucks and buses. The state is also a signatory to the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management’s Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, requiring 30% of vehicle sales to be zero-emission by 2030. To enable these benefits and support meeting New Jersey’s electric truck and bus adoption goals, sufficient and timely charging infrastructure is necessary.

States, including New Jersey, are receiving a sizeable amount of federal funds under the Inflation Reduction Act and the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program to accelerate the transition, mostly targeting public charging infrastructure. This is welcome news and represents significant vehicle electrification progress, particularly for light duty vehicle charging and addressing range anxiety. Yet, early adopters of zero-emission MHDV fleets will rely primarily on private depot charging at their own facilities. In 2021, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities released a preliminary proposal outlining the development of charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles throughout the state, but there were many gaps, in particular support for private depot charging, within this proposal.

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By analyzing real fleet data from New Jersey in the report New Jersey Medium Duty Fleet Electrification Infrastructure, Environmental Defense Fund and Emerging Futures evaluated the charging infrastructure needs of five real class three through 7 fleets based in the state, the current cost barriers they are facing, as well as policy and other solutions that can lead to fuel cost savings for these fleets’ transition.

New Jersey Fleets are ready to go electric

From the five fleets in the study, 80% of all trips performed over a year were able to be met with current charging technology and without changing operations. Additionally, up to 95% of trips could be successfully completed if two charging sessions were allowed. This shows that most MHDV fleets in NJ can successfully electrify without major changes to operations.

 The Cost of infrastructure is still a barrier

With medium- and heavy-duty vehicles already capable of doing the job of their diesel counterparts, the next piece of the puzzle is doing so with cost parity or improvements. Understanding the different types of costs will also be essential to meet New Jersey’s goal of 100% of all new truck and bus sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2050. The study looked at the total cost of charging infrastructure needed to support fleets as well as total charging costs.

When looking solely at fleet electricity costs alone, transitioning to zero-emission vehicles would lead to annual fuel cost savings between $4,000-55,000 for all fleets in the study. However, when including the cost of charging infrastructure, only one of the five fleets was able to maintain fuel cost savings. Without financial support for private fleet infrastructure, these additional costs make it difficult to break even for most use cases. This is especially true for smaller fleets. Fleets of less than 10 trucks are particularly vulnerable to charging infrastructure costs and will require greater support to realize fuel cost savings.

One clear obstacle which drives up cost of charging infrastructure is make-ready costs. Make-ready costs account for at least 30% of the upfront charging infrastructure costs for all the fleets evaluated. This suggests that policy and incentive support to reduce these costs would have a significant impact on the total cost of charging infrastructure for fleets.

Managed charging can reduce infrastructure costs

 Charging infrastructure costs can be further decreased with the implementation of managed charging, which will not only decrease a fleet’s charging electricity bills but also decrease the physical infrastructure needed to complete charging. By decreasing the peak power as well as optimizing charging scheduling, a fleet can reduce the size and number of chargers needed as well as the amount of depot sites and grid upgrades. For example, a four-vehicle food service fleet would require two 100 kilowatt chargers with unmanaged charging, but only a single 50 kilowatt charger with managed charging — potentially $50,000 in capital cost savings without changing business operations. Managed charging should be a core part of fleet programs to ensure costs for fleets as well as grid impacts are minimized as this sector transforms.

New Jersey’s fleets are ready for electrification, and the technology is ready to support them. The state can — and should — implement programs to reduce upfront costs for charging infrastructure as well as plans to decrease the cost of charging and improve grid resilience. New Jersey can be a national leader in fleet electrification, and the way forward means lowering barriers and speeding up the transition to fully electric, zero-emission fleets.





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