Run on Less – Electric: The Use Case for Vans & Step Vans

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

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

  1. DHL with a Lightning eMotors Ford Transit 350 HD Class 3 van
  2. Purolator with a Motiv EPIC Class 6 step van
  3. Servall Electric with a Workhorse C1000 Class 4 step van

How It Worked

This report’s conclusions were generated through the data collection and calculations from the three vans and step vans that participated in Run on Less – Electric, interviews conducted with representatives from the participating fleets and tractor builders and input from other industry experts. All three vehicles were instrumented with a Geotab telematics device that 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 van and step van segment the technology is mature enough for fleets to be making investments in production battery electric vans and step vans.

Additional Findings Include:

  1. E-commerce is leading the doubling of the huge van and step van market. The continued growth of e-commerce, coupled with customer demand for faster, cheaper shipping, and the need for last mile delivery solutions, will likely drive growth in the van and step van market segment over the next decade.
  2. Everything around electrifying smaller commercial vehicles is easier and the TCO for this market segment is approaching parity with diesel and gasoline powered vehicles. Battery technology today meets the operational requirements for smaller commercial vehicles, especially in the Class 3 to 6 range. The battery packs are smaller and don’t impact cargo capacity or payload. Additionally, because these vehicles are typically used in single-shift operations, fast charging is not necessary. This lowers the power requirements thereby reducing the total cost of charging and infrastructure.
  3. Improves driver attraction and retention. Many drivers of these vehicles have not driven trucks before, and the ease of operation will be key to attracting them. Reliability and improved working environment are not the only benefits drivers see with electric vans and step vans. There also is a definite “cool” factor when it comes to interacting with the public. Drivers tell NACFE they get a lot of interest about the electric vehicles they are driving, from both their peers and their families.
  4. Transition will be challenging, but planning can mitigate risks. Even though electrifying smaller commercial vehicles is easier, the transition still will be difficult. Electrification will not happen overnight or in a silo. Redesigning parking lots and depots to support electrification will take time, effort, and money. Thoughtful planning during the design phase at new sites can help fleets mitigate some of the challenges existing sites will experience as they work toward electrification.

Lessons Learned

NACFE learned a number of lessons during the three weeks of the Run specific to vans and step vans.

Conclusions

Multiple sources indicate that 50% to 60% of active registered vehicles are in Class 3 to 6 — some 4.2 million in the US and 0.53 million in Canada. NACFE’s conservative estimate of active Class 3, 4, 5 and 6 vans and step vans in the US and Canadian market is approximately 4.2 million vehicles. The market for urban delivery vans could double between 2021 and 2026, based in large part on the growth of e-commerce.

If 100% of the vans and step in the US and Canada were electrified which would result in the avoidance of 43,476,632 MT CO2e annually (e equals carbon dioxide equivalent).

Market Segment Fact Sheet