Electric Trucks Have Arrived: The Use Case For Terminal Tractors

The Run on Less – Electric demonstration focused on the terminal tractor segment of the trucking industry in addition to vans and step vans, medium-duty box trucks and heavy-duty regional haul tractors.

The three fleet-OEM pairs in the terminal tractor market segment were:

  1. NFI with a Kalmar Ottawa terminal tractor
  2. Ruan with an Orange EV terminal tractor
  3. Ryder with a Lonestar Specialty Vehicles terminal tractor

How It Worked

This report’s conclusions were generated through the data collection and calculations from the three terminal tractors that participated in Run on Less – Electric, interviews conducted with representatives from the participating fleets and tractor builders and input from other industry experts. Of these three vehicles, two were instrumented with a Geotab telematics device, and one had its data collected via the manufacturer’s own telematics device. The telematics devices tracked daily range, speed profiles, state of charge, charging events, amount of regenerative braking energy recovery, weather and number of deliveries.

Results

Run on Less – Electric demonstrated that in the terminal tractor market segment the technology is mature enough for fleets to be making investments in production battery electric terminal tractors.

Additional Findings Include:

  1. NACFE considers terminal tractors one of the best, if not THE best, paths for a heavy-duty tractor fleets to learn about and implement a BEV in a fleet operation.
  2. The drivers in Run on Less – Electric all rave about their vehicles’ quieter operation and improved performance. All the drivers mentioned that they liked the responsiveness of the battery electric terminal tractor, and they also liked the regenerative braking feature once they got used to it.
  3. The maintenance cost of a battery electric terminal tractor compared to the most recent diesel-powered terminal tractors (2017 and later with DPF and SCR aftertreatment systems) is dramatically reduced (approximately 60% to 75%).
  4. Battery electric terminal tractors have a positive environmental impact and will contribute to overall business sustainability goals.
  5. Payback times for a battery electric terminal tractor compared to diesel-powered units are currently long for most applications (eight or more years) without incentives and other factors to help the TCO calculation.
  6. Tracking the vehicle to verify the cost benefits can be very difficult without significant prior planning.

Lessons Learned

NACFE learned a number of lessons during the three weeks of the Run specific to terminal tractors.

Conclusions

The terminal tractor market globally is estimated to grow from about $700M in 2021 to more than $850M in 2026.

Based on the duty cycle and frequency of intermittent charging, fleets may be able to reduce the battery pack size, which will lower the overall cost of the vehicle without sacrificing performance.

If 100% of the terminal tractors in the US and Canada were electrified, it would require approximately 726 gWh of electricity for charging and result in the avoidance of 929,687 MT CO2e annually. (e equals carbon dioxide equivalent.)

Market Segment Fact Sheet