Scaling Cleaner Freight Movement

Run on Less – Electric DEPOT:
Scaling BEVs in the Real World

To demonstrate the efficacy of battery electric vehicles in large numbers in commercial applications, in September 2023 NACFE held Run on Less – Electric DEPOT (RoL-E DEPOT).

The primary objective of the Run was to publicly document successful depot-scale fleet deployments of large numbers of production battery electric vehicles.

How It Worked

NACFE tracked 22 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) from Class 2b through Class 8 operating out of 10 depots in New York, British Columbia and California.

The fleet depots and vehicles in RoL-E DEPOT were:

NACFE evaluated each of the depot operations in RoL-E DEPOT, estimating the power requirements if all the trucks operating at the facility transitioned to BEVs. This process inherently has many assumptions, but it serves as a good “ballpark” estimate. If 100% of the approximately 850 trucks of different classes at the 10 sites transitioned to BEVs, they would need 214 MWh of energy per day.

NACFE concludes that electrifying the 850 trucks at the 10 fleet depots in the Run represents a relatively small ~214 MWh/year growth in electricity demand in networks handling annual electricity on the scale of GWh and TWh.

Findings

The initial Run on Less – Electric DEPOT findings released shortly after the event in 2023 were confirmed by the additional analysis that took place following the Run.

In addition to validating the initial findings, the post-Run analysis came to these additional findings.

  1. Electric vans, trucks and heavy-duty tractors are on the road today and are performing well in many duty cycles. Despite challenges, many fleets are deploying BEVs at scale in their operations. This list includes not only the 10 fleets that participated in Run on Less – Electric DEPOT but also companies like Amazon, NFI and IKEA.
  2. Infrastructure, both at the depots and strategically placed along freight corridors is needed now. One stumbling block to depot electrification is the need for a wider charging network. The place to begin is at or between depots and along freight corridors. Fleets can help with this by working in partnerships where two or more companies combine charging use to maximize charger asset utilization. Fleets need to be aware that planning time for utilities is significantly longer than what fleets are used to. Utilities need to give fleets realistic timelines for project completion. The US National Blueprint For Transportation Decarbonization and the National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy outline a vision for the vehicle technologies and infrastructure required to transform commercial freight transportation from fossil fuels to zero-emission energy sources.
  3. Heavy-duty tractor OEMs should make cost and weight improvements a priority. It is still difficult for many fleets to make the TCO case for BEVs based solely on hard costs, but factoring in things like driver satisfaction and achieving sustainability goals can result in a better TCO case. In addition, more information is needed on the cost of trucks, chargers, energy, infrastructure installation, etc. Vehicle weight has a direct impact on how much payload can be carried. Even with the 2,000-lb. weight exemption for Class 8 vehicles, the weight of the batteries is impacting payload as well as range. But it is important to keep in mind that today even with diesel-powered truck not every load reaches maximum gross vehicle weight. The more exact the understanding of freight weights, the better the electricity needs for BEVs can be estimated. This will help fleets better match BEVs to duty cycles. In the meantime, OEMs need to continue to refine batteries with weight reduction as a key goal.
  4. More realistic data on all key performance metrics is needed. There is a need for better quality performance data on BEV operations — not measured solely on the vehicle, but also measured at the charger, at the depot and from a utility perspective. Information needs to be realistic and not focus on “worst case” scenarios as those do not accurately represent the reality of the current state of BEV development. In addition, it takes a joint effort from a variety of sources to electrify a depot and each of these participants requires their own type of data for different reasons.

More details on Run on Less – Electric DEPOT can be found here.

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