Beginning today, all across the U.S. and Canada, 13 truck fleets in a wide array of diverse applications will begin running their electric trucks in a brand-new scientific and engineering evaluation event.
The event is called Run on Less Electric, and its the latest brainchild of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), a not-for-profit trucking industry advisory group.
Led by its executive director, Mike Roeth, NACFE’s team of engineers and transportation analysts have carved out a reputation as a reliable voice for honestly and integrity when it comes to evaluating and advising fleets on new and emerging technologies.
NACFE’s speciality is not just identifying which new technologies can save fuel, but in doing the groundwork to discover just how effective new technologies are in real-world fleet applications.
And now, NACFE is going to take an unblinking look at electric trucks to determine just how efficient they can be for fleets in a variety of common trucking applications.
“Our goal here is pretty simple,” Roeth told attendees at a press conference on the ACT Expo show floor. “We are going to move freight in the real world, using real truck drivers to try and understand both where we are currently with electric trucks, and where we’re headed.”
In preparation for Run on Less Electric, Roeth’s team traveled to fleets all over the U.S. and Canada to identify potential candidates and learn about their specific operations.
Initially, Roeth said NACFE was planning on limiting Run on Less Electric to 10 fleets. But after his team found 13 enthusiastic candidates, they decided to include all of them to gain a bigger picture of how electric trucks are working today.
“The trucks we’ll be studying are running across a wide spectrum of common medium-duty applications that are particularly suited to electric vehicle technology as it exists today,” he explained. “This ranges from yard tractors — which I really did not know much about, despite my many years in this industry — to medium duty box trucks and vans, to larger Classes 7 and 8 trucks engaged in short, local and regional haul routes.”
Naturally, with so many different applications, each fleet has a unique story to tell. And NACFE will do just that over the course of the two-week run by highlighting a different fleet daily at RunOnLess.com with dedicated fleet profile pages that related their path to electric trucks and how they are changing their operations.
Going into the Run on Less Electric demonstration, Roeth said he believes range, weight and charging infrastructure will be the main challenges for fleets.
But already, Roeth said, NACFE is gaining valuable insights into how electric trucks perform in real life. For example, he said, it’s obvious that some battery improvements are needed before electric trucks can handle longer regional routes on par with diesel trucks. “Of the eight regional haul trucks in Run on Less Electric,” Roeth said, “three are running routes on par with their diesel counterparts. The others can only run portions of the same routes diesel trucks do. But the fleets that are running them are committed to working with OEMs and technology providers to find ways to extend range and make the trucks better.”
On the other hand, Roeth said, last mile vans, which do not need fast charging, and yard tractors, which take advantage of opportunity charging to extend their operational capabilities to an impressive degree are proving that many medium-duty segments are ready to go over to electric trucks in a big way now.
“The nationwide scope of Run on Less Electric, including our Canadian friends up north, demonstrates that this is not just a ‘California thing,’” Roeth said. “We think this technology will soon begin spreading nationwide and we can show that this technology can work for fleets today. The metrics that we get off of these vehicles are going to be all new. And it’s going to be fascinating to see what we learn from this demonstration.”
Run on Less Electric Begins today and runs until Sept. 19. NACFE will be posting raw telemetry for runs daily on its website.