Fleet Manager, a publication for people who have posters of Peterbilts on their office walls, offers a list of 4 reasons their readers might prefer electric trucks that are a little out of the ordinary.
Less Noise, Longer Working Hours
First up on the list is this — electric trucks are quieter. Well, duh. Everybody knows that. But that lack of noise means they can operate at times when diesel trucks cannot. As it turns out, that has a significant impact on the businesses in congested urban area.
Jonas Odermalm, head of product strategy for Volvo Trucks, says testing of his company’s FL and FE electric trucks shows they are able to operate during off hours — even the middle of the night — when diesels are prohibited. That helps the businesses they deliver to save money. How?
“They know that they have everything they need and they can run and plan the day accordingly. There were always hiccups with daytime deliveries, so [the customers] needed to have double amounts of all ingredients in the store and they didn’t really know whether they would get their shipment in time.” With electric trucks, “There’s more precision so the receiver can reduce their inventory. That is really important and it becomes a more energy efficient operation.”
Regenerative Braking Boosts Efficiency
Edward Jobson, vice president of electromobility at Volvo Trucks, says “The energy efficiency calculation is about comparing the efficiency map of the diesel and losses in the transmission chain with the efficiency of the electric drivetrain and energy recuperation while braking.”
Jobson uses a city trash collection vehicle as an example. It has an average speed of about 12.5 mph and average load of about 15% of its maximum. “The average efficiency of a diesel at this very low-load case is about 20%. The electric drivetrain will have about 80% efficiency at a low-load case. Together with some brake energy recuperation and more efficient auxiliary drives, this will lead to about five times higher efficiency for the electric drive.”
Looking down the road, electric trucks could become energy storage units on wheels. After a natural disaster like a hurricane, flood, or forest fire, the large batteries in electric trucks could power local minigrids providing crucial electrical power to hospitals and first responders.
There’s another aspect to consider with all that stored energy available. “Today, fleets just think of themselves as consumers of fuel, which they’re buying often in bulk. They’ve perhaps never thought of their fuel as a resource that they could trade,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of Zap&Go.
“If you had a fleet of large electric vehicles, say 100 trucks each with 1 Megawatt hour of stored energy, that’s 100 Megawatt hours of energy you’d have available. When it comes to it, you could trade that energy to the highest bidder.” Fleets essentially could become energy commodity traders, he says.
Alternate Energy Sources
If you are driving a diesel truck, there is only one way you can take in more fuel — find a pump. If you are driving an electric truck, you have a potential source of extra energy all around — sunshine. eNow Energy is busy covering all those semi trailers out there with solar panels. The electricity they generate can be used to add range to the tractor, of course, but it can also be used to power refrigeration equipment.
Electric trucks with electrically cooled trailers don’t need to idle for long periods of time to keep their load cold and can drive indoors without poisoning everybody with exhaust fumes. They can also operate in low pollution zones that ban diesel engines during certain hours of the day or during air quality alerts.
Don’t Forget The Normal Benefits Of Electric Trucks
All these extra benefits take nothing away from the primary advantages of electric trucks — gobs of torque, quiet operation, lower cost of fuel, and greatly reduced routine maintenance. Put it all together and it’s no wonder electric trucks are quickly becoming the preferred choice of fleet managers everywhere.