EVs Go Big as Fleet Owners, Transit Authorities, Local Governments Eye the Benefits of Electric Buses and Trucks

Posted by Claire Alford on Aug 6, 2019 3:00:00 PM

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In 2018, the advanced transportation sector saw both the largest increase and the fastest growth (34%) in the U.S advanced energy market. Leading this growth was revenue from plug-in Electric Vehicles (EVs), mainly comprised of the light-duty market. Just as important is the burgeoning market of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MD/HDVs), which include the likes of school buses, city transit buses, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks. Medium- and heavy-duty EV adoption is expected to increase globally, reaching over 5 million vehicles on the road by 2030. Some analysts predict that half of the world’s municipal bus fleet will be electric by 2025. Get ready for EVs to go big!

Thanks to their cost and operational benefits, new electric bus and truck models are gaining the attention of commercial, municipal, and state fleet operators. Municipalities, state regulatory agencies, and major auto manufacturers alike are making commitments to electrify their medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Fleet owners, who are highly focused on the total cost of ownership (TCO) – which incorporates the purchase price and operating costs – when evaluating a vehicle, are beginning to incorporate them into their MDV/HDV portfolios. The opportunity for TCO savings from these vehicles comes primarily from their lower maintenance and fuel costs

Combine the potential operational and cost saving benefits with the fact that traditional combustion versions of these vehicles are major sources of local air pollution and it should come as no surprise that electric versions of these vehicles are in the fast lane to adoption. The transportation sector recently passed the electricity sector as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States and MDV/HDVs are responsible for 23% of transportation emissions. Electrifying these vehicles would eliminate tailpipe emissions, which is important for both corporate and government customers that are striving to meet air quality, public health, and sustainability goals. Major companies with U.S. operations, including IKEA, Walmart, and UPS, are looking to roll out EV fleets and have taken steps toward this objective, recognizing these benefits.

“As commercial and industrial fleet operators, along with state and local governments, eye the long-term benefits of electric buses and trucks, we are seeing the beginning of significant adoption,” says AEE Managing Director Matt Stanberry.”Lower fuel and maintenance costs, significant operational capabilities, and quieter rides give electric buses and trucks a leg up for fleet owners, while offering air quality and economic benefits for the wider public. Electrification of certain segments of bus and truck transportation could come as fast as electric cars, if not faster.” 

Electric buses illustrate a major trend within the MDV/HDV segment, as these vehicles offer an attractive alternative to traditional diesel-powered buses. Cities including Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Louisville have begun adding electric transit buses to their fleets. Just this month, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved nearly $70 million in funding to replace more than 200 diesel school buses with all-electric buses. Likewise, major commercial automakers are paying attention to this prospering transportation segment. Proterra, a leader in North America for electric transit buses, counts BMW and Germany’s Daimler, the top maker of commercial vehicles and the parent of Mercedes-Benz, as investors. Berskshire Hathaway-backed BYD, another leader in the electric transit bus market, is also making its mark in the refuse market, delivering a rear-loading electric garbage truck to Seattle hauler Recology and an automated side-loader to Waste Resources, Inc., in Carson, CA.  

Speaking of refuse trucks, Volvo Trucks delivered their first all-electric vehicles in early 2019, including a refuse truck that went to waste-and-recycling company Renova. Additionally, medium-duty and drayage trucks for short-haul transport are being electrified. Daimler Trucks unveiled the Freightliner eM2 106, an all-electric solution for the medium-duty segment in addition to the Freightliner eCascadia, a heavy-duty battery electric truck. 

With a myriad of benefits and new models arriving, there is only one direction the medium- and heavy-duty market is headed, and that is electric. 

We outline for policymakers the benefits that private and public fleet operators are beginning to see in electric buses and trucks in our recent fact sheet, Electrifying Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, available by clicking below.

Download Fact Sheet

Topics: Advanced Transportation