Over the last several years, the electric vehicle sector has seen a growth in the desire for more heavy-duty trucks, semi-trucks, delivery vans and other commercial vehicles.
The electrification of these medium and heavy-duty transport methods has become a vital component in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In 2019, these vehicles alone emitted 444 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. And since 1990, the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions from these modes of transportation has increased by more than 90 percent; in the U.S. they account for 18 percent of global road freight CO2 emissions.
The electrification of trucking has the potential to vastly decrease the carbon impact the industry has made. More manufacturers are pushing to launch their EV models to become a part of this new ecosystem dedicated to finding a long-term solution to sustainable commercial transportation.
While the manufacturers are the ones building out these new electric heavy-duty trucks and vans, the efforts do not fall on them alone as partnerships with logistics and retail companies and local governments to reach the goal continue to grow.
For example, the EPA provides companies that are improving freight transportation efficiency with funding, grants and other incentives through its SmartWay program. Last summer, the Spanish government promised to invest $5.1 billion to set in motion the production of electric vehicles as part of a major national spending program.
Within the next few years, many of these automakers plan to not only introduce their electrified trucking fleets, but to become leaders in a space that needs to see significant change to make a lasting impact on GHG emissions. According to a report by Quince Market Insight, in 2021, the global electric truck market size was valued at $670 million and is projected to grow by 23.5 percent between 2020 and 2030.
As companies such as Ford and Rivian continue to replace gasoline and diesel powered commercial vehicles, they are also prepared to introduce more consumer-based vehicles — such as pickups — in 2022. Still, several other global auto manufacturers are prepared to roll out more electric trucks and delivery vans this year, notably the General Motors company Brightdrop, which has already made a big splash early in January.
While everyone agrees the journey to electrify trucking will take years to find its way, this year promises to bring clarity to that roadmap, with corporate fleet managers — such as those involved with the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance — offering more details about their purchasing plans. For your consideration, here are seven trucking companies that have big plans for 2022 — although there are certainly other players to watch over the long term. You can check out other companies we’re watching in the 2020 and 2021 editions of this list.
In 2021, General Motors (GM) launched BrightDrop, a new subsidiary to help support sustainability efforts in the delivery and logistics sector. To start this year, GM further improved its efforts after signing a deal with Walmart to reserve 5,000 EV600 trucks and their midsize electric delivery van, the EV410. GM also received an order from FedEx for 2,000 more vehicles over the next several years. The order could potentially increase FedEx’s fleet to include 20,000 electric vans.
The BrightDrop van features low-entry and loading openings to make life easier for the drivers that have to get in and out of the van. It is also lightweight and purpose-built for the efficient delivery of goods and services, with a payload capacity of 2,200 pounds.
For FedEx and Walmart, the purchases from BrightDrop are a combination of savings and sustainability. The cost to charge its EVs is about 75 percent less than to fuel a similar gas-powered vehicle, according to information published by BrightDrop. With both FedEx and Walmart announcing goals to have zero-emissions delivery fleets by 2040, the purchase of BrightDrop models only furthers their push to become net-zero carbon emitters.
Electric Last Mile Solutions
Focused on building affordable, battery-powered commercial vehicles, Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) is ready to become a big player in the EV freight transportation space this year.
This North American manufacturer is not just promising to introduce a vehicle in the next year or two, it is already building and delivering all-electric delivery vans. ELMS Urban Delivery van is tailor-made for couriers, contractors (painters, plumbers, roofers) and other businesses in need of long-lasting commercial vehicles.
In December, ELMS announced an order from Glovis America, the global supply chain and logistics provider in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
According to ELMS, the Class 1 Urban Delivery van is the first and only Class 1 commercial electric vehicle in the U.S. It also comes with a suite of safety measures and technology that ELMS claims to be class-leading.
At 186 inches long, the Urban Delivery is about the size of a Ford Transit Connect. It rolls on a 120-inch wheelbase and weighs a claimed 3,133 pounds. It also has a generous 157 cubic feet of cargo space, carrying 20 percent more cargo than the leading class one fossil-fuelled vehicle with a maximum payload is 2,100 pounds.
The Urban Delivery van also features a 41-kilowatt-hour battery pack provided by CATL, which ELMS estimates will deliver 110 miles of range. A single electric motor cranks out a modest 60kW of oomph, about 80 horsepower. The top speed is a claimed 55 mph, enough for service and commercial vehicles.
ELMS is headquartered in Troy, Michigan, with a manufacturing plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, ironically at an old Hummer factory that was converted to build EVs. CEO and co-founder Jim Taylor used to be an executive at GM as CEO of the Hummer brand.
Earlier this month, Kenworth of Kirkland, Washington, unveiled an electric version of its zero-emissions T680E semi-truck. While it's not the company’s first battery-powered hauler, it's certainly the heaviest and largest model in the 98-year-old manufacturer’s fleet of EV trucks.
The T680E is designed for pickup and delivery applications, regional hauling and is also available as a day cab tractor or straight truck. It is also the company’s first Class 8 battery-electric truck — which Kenworth states can be fully charged in about three hours.
According to Kenworth, the Meritor-sourced powertrain delivers 536 horsepower of continuous power, 670 horsepower of peak power and 1,623 pound-feet of torque. The T680E has a 65-mph top speed, the speed limit for semis in some states, and its estimated range checks in at 150 miles. Considering that some diesel-powered trucks are capable of making a 300-gallon tank last for about 2,000 miles, this is low.
Still, this new addition to the Kenworth fleet is just another part of its own green program to contribute to zero-emissions solutions, which already includes two other trucks — the K270E and K370E, both medium-duty models.
Two years after announcing its $600 million factory in Coolidge, Arizona, Nikola will begin a pilot program with a Southern California trucking company, which would test two electric test trucks with hopes of striking a deal for full-scale production by the end of 2022.
The two Tre BEV trucks went to Total Transportation Services (TTSI), a trucking company operating at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. If the trials are successful, Nikola aims to deliver 30 Tre BEVs to the company in 2022. Nikola also intends to send TTSI its Tre FCEV semi-trucks for testing this year.
TTSI was not the only company to strike a deal with Nikola. The truck maker also received an order from freight transport company Heniff Transportation, which agreed to buy 10 Tre BEV trucks. If they meet expectations, the company may buy 90 additional trucks.
Nikola says that the Tre BEV has a range of 350 miles due to a 753-kWh battery, and a total of 645 horsepower allows for a top speed of 75 mph. Nikola says that the truck can charge from 10 to 80 percent in two hours at up to 240 kW, and it has a gross combined vehicle weight rating of 82,000 pounds.
For this Phoenix-based electric-truck startup, this is a step in the right direction after a difficult year that saw its founder step down after being charged with fraud. As a result of that development, the company lost out on a deal with General Motors (GM) to help build Nikola’s pickup truck — the Badger.
Stellantis, the company that formed last year from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French PSA Group, has struck a deal with Amazon to sell the company the Ram ProMaster delivery vans in 2023. While Stellantis has not officially revealed the electric vans, Amazon is expected to become the first commercial customer when it eventually enters production.
In addition to the Ram ProMaster deal, Amazon and Stellantis also announced that the two would be working together to develop in-car software for Stellantis’ lineup of vehicles — including Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The deal will also allow Amazon to integrate its software into millions of vehicles. The two companies will also collaborate on software for the "digital cockpit" infotainment systems of Stellantis vehicles that will launch by 2024. And Stellantis will use Amazon’s Alexa technology for voice-controlled features, such as navigation, vehicle maintenance, ecommerce marketplaces and even payment services.
This news might come as a shock, as Amazon struck a deal with EV manufacturer Rivian in 2019 to receive 1000,000 delivery vans by 2030, with 10,000 those coming this year. Making the deal with Stellantis more interesting is the fact that Amazon also owns a 20 percent stake of Rivian, which in 2021 became a publicly traded company and the sixth largest IPO in the U.S. to date, according to Bloomberg. However, Rivian saw its stock crash after Amazon's Jan. 5 announcement of its agreement with competitor Stellantis.
Since 2017, when Tesla unveiled its plans for the Tesla Semi, there has been immense anticipation for what the electric vehicle giant has in store for the heavy-duty transportation sector. And now, after delays over the last three years, Tesla Semi could be just around that corner after PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta told CNBC that his company would receive the Tesla Semi by the end of Q4 2021.
The statement might be a surprise for most, especially as Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk has been relatively conservative about the official release date of the Class 8 all-electric truck, but photos show Megachargers ready for installation and even some in packaging. The photos show several Semi Megachargers at PepsiCo’s Modesto, California, facility which are connected to a Megapack battery.
So the wait may be over and PepsiCo, along with the rest of the heavy-duty transportation sector, may finally get to see the Tesla Semi in action by the end of the month.
Coming into 2022, Volvo is ready to make strides with its electric trucks, through the production of its FH, a partnership with DHL, and another large order from Europe's largest shipping and logistics company.
The Swedish company is ready to start series production of its FH Electric, one of three new electric trucks joining its fleet. The electric FH has already been available to order for several months, and Volvo is positioning the truck as a workhorse in the field of regional and supra-regional transport — regardless of the climatic conditions of the respective location. In December, Volvo put the FH Electric to test in extreme winter conditions in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle in Sweden.
But for Volvo, the goal to reduce emissions to zero goes beyond just manufacturing trucks. By recently partnering with DHL, it is working to speed up the introduction of heavy-duty electric trucks to be used for regional transport throughout Sweden.
The partnership hopes to gain important insight regarding the setup and operation of EV charging infrastructure throughout Sweden. The plan for Volvo and DHL is to use the data gathered throughout routes in the country to find an ideal balance between distance, weight and charging points in freight operations. The FH Electric is the truck being used in the DHL Freight program.
The Volvo FM electric truck, which can travel more than 300 miles on a charge, will also have a major impact on reducing emissions after DFDS, the European shipping and logistics company, placed an order for an additional 25 FM Electrics, giving it a total of 125 heavy electric trucks from Volvo.
After commencing production of electric trucks in 2019, Volvo Trucks has six electric truck models and possesses 25 percent of the market share of heavy trucks in Europe.