Study Focuses on North American Truckers Leading the Electric Charge


More than a dozen different electric trucks from companies such as Frito-Lay, Anheuser Busch and DHL are being measured over the next three weeks along their usual delivery routes to tally the amount of carbon they emit. This is a part of Run on Less, a program aimed at measuring efficiency in trucking that is a collaboration between the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and RMI.

For the first time, all trucks participating in the event are powered by electric motors. Data will be collected daily along the three-week run and streamed live online. Final results will be unveiled the week of September 20.

“The transition to electric trucks is happening in the trucking industry all over North America,” says Mike Roeth, executive director at NACFE. “Our preliminary findings based on early adopters show that switching from a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle to an electric one is affordable. And there is now inertia in the trucking industry that will speed up adoption in coming years.”

Interviews with truckers, fleet operators and delivery companies prior to the Run’s launch also found that early adopters of electric vehicles (EVs) are validating an acceptable total cost of ownership in urban medium-duty vans and trucks, terminal tractors and short regional haul applications. EV adoption is occurring throughout North America, but for longer haul heavy-duty semi-trucks use has been somewhat limited to California. There are benefits to EVs (quiet operation and reliability) as well as challenges (infrastructure and range).

EV truck ecosystem inertia is in its early stages with many solutions emerging that will support adoption in the next several years. Those interviewed also said that the industry needs to develop standards in the areas of charging, repair, maintenance and training. There is a huge demand for real-world information on EVs in commercial applications and on charging infrastructure.

They also said that more thought is needed on the best way to gather and manage the necessary data for fleets and manufacturers to measure and monitor their EVs. Early adopters of EVs are having an influence on improving trucks and infrastructure. EVs present operational challenges, for example longer charging times than fueling, which these fleets are working to mitigate.

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