The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) released a new report Run On Less – Electric: The Use Case For Vans & Step Vans. The Run on Less – Electric demonstration focused on the van and step van segment of the trucking industry in addition to medium-duty box trucks, terminal tractors and heavy-duty regional haul tractors.
The three fleet-OEM pairs in the terminal tractor market segment were:
- DHL with a Lightning eMotors Ford Transit 350 HD Class 3 van
- Purolator with a Motiv EPIC Class 6 step van
- Servall Electric with a Workhorse C1000 Class 4 step van
Since these are the primary vehicles used for last mile delivery the technology is mature enough for fleets to be making investments in production battery electric vans and step vans, according to the report. Other findings include:
- E-commerce is leading the doubling of the huge van and step van market. The continued growth of e-commerce, coupled with customer demand for faster, cheaper shipping, and the need for last mile delivery solutions, will likely drive growth in the van and step van market segment over the next decade.
- Everything around electrifying smaller commercial vehicles is easier and the TCO for this market segment is approaching parity with diesel and gasoline powered vehicles. Battery technology today meets the operational requirements for smaller commercial vehicles, especially in the Class 3 to 6 range. The battery packs are smaller and don’t impact cargo capacity or payload. Additionally, because these vehicles are typically used in single-shift operations, fast charging is not necessary. This lowers the power requirements thereby reducing the total cost of charging and infrastructure.
- Improves driver attraction and retention. Many drivers of these vehicles have not driven trucks before, and the ease of operation will be key to attracting them. Reliability and improved working environment are not the only benefits drivers see with electric vans and step vans. There also is a definite “cool” factor when it comes to interacting with the public. Drivers tell NACFE they get a lot of interest about the electric vehicles they are driving, from both their peers and their families.
- Transition will be challenging, but planning can mitigate risks. Even though electrifying smaller commercial vehicles is easier, the transition still will be difficult. Electrification will not happen overnight or in a silo. Redesigning parking lots and depots to support electrification will take time, effort, and money. Thoughtful planning during the design phase at new sites can help fleets mitigate some of the challenges existing sites will experience as they work toward electrification.