Electric Trucks: Big Toys, Batteries Included.

Posted: February 28, 2018
Tagged As: Electric Vehicles, Fleet Management, GHG Emissions

When you think of electric vehicles, more often than not, a car comes to mind.  The Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt, or the Tesla Model S. While these vehicles are great candidates for residents looking to electrify their commute, municipal fleets tend to incorporate much larger vehicles. Even though this market is still in its infancy, there are some models of trucks and heavy-duty vehicles for those municipalities looking to “go green” now.
A quick note: this blog post provides a brief overview of the market, and is not an endorsement of any particular product.
Half-ton trucks are the workhorses of most municipal fleets. They are versatile, useful, and relatively inexpensive to buy. This market segment will likely be the ‘next step’ for EV makers, and there are already a few entries into the market. Electric versions of these trucks offer a few advantages besides lower fuel costs; most can operate as backup generators, delivering between 7,000 and 50,000 watts to power worksites, events, or to keep critical facilities online. The economics of an electric truck can change considerably if the truck can take the place of a stationary backup generator. Electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) trucks are also able to ‘idle’ silently and without producing exhaust.  This can be important in situations where a vehicle needs to stay running while in close proximity to staff or the public.
Workhorse W15
Photo Credit: http://workhorse.com/media

XL Hybrids offers a certified upfit of the Ford F150, turning it into a plug-in hybrid with gas backup. VIA Motors offers a similar product, using a General Motors supplied base truck to build their own PHEV. The Workhorse W15 is set to start deliveries toward the end of 2018, and is the first purpose-built PHEV truck to market. The W15 has an all-electric range of 129 km, with a gas backup for longer trips. Havelaar, based in Toronto, has released the all-electric Bison pickup, which will be pilot testing in municipal fleets this year. Bigger name automakers including Ford and Tesla have made promises to introduce more hybrid and electric trucks, but so far, the details have been few and far between.
Hybrid and electric technology is creeping its way into even larger vehicles too. Oxford County became the first municipality in Canada to introduce hybrid ambulances in 2018, anticipating 20% savings in fuel costs and lowered CO2 emissions. Reducing the amount of idle time will also result in decreased exposure to vehicle exhaust for paramedics and patients. BYD has announced a new electric vehicle plant in Ontario, with garbage and delivery trucks being first off the line. Garbage trucks are ideal for electrification, where regenerative braking can recover energy used in their start/stop cycles.  The result is reduced noise and air pollution in our neighbourhoods and better quality of life for residents.
BYD Electric Garbage Truck
Photo credit: http://www.byd.com/usa/news-posts/press-release-byd-delivers-worlds-first-all-electric-automated-side-loader-refuse-truck-to-city-of-palo-alto-in-california/

BYD Electric Bus in use at the 2017 AMO ConferenceTransit and school busses make up a category all on their own, and Ontario is starting to see more of them hit local roads. The Ministry of Transportation has launched an Electric School Bus Pilot Program to kick-start that industry, and the  Pan-Ontario Electric Bus Demonstration and Integration Trial will bring electric transit buses to the Regional Municipality of York and City of Brampton. Electric buses are rapidly growing in popularity around the world, and show great potential for fuel cost and emissions reduction for transit providers across Ontario. 

Municipal fleets can reap big rewards by electrifying, and it is not just the small cars providing the benefit. Bigger vehicles have bigger fuel bills, meaning the financial and environmental benefits of converting can provide a much larger ‘bang for your buck’ than the smaller cars in the fleet.
For more information on incorporating electric vehicles into your fleet, contact Tanner or check out the LAS Fleet Management Service.

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