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Are EVs and Alternative Fuel CMVs Ready for Prime Time? Part I

Internal combustion vehicles are no longer the norm. And yet, many trucking companies and other businesses have not yet figured out the best alternative fuel for their operation. Certainly, the idea of going green is appealing, but if you cannot do it in practice, what’s the point?

Still, there are a lot of unknown questions out there regarding alternative fuels. When it comes to cost, infrastructure, training, and more – is your fleet ready? You may have questions. And we’re here to provide you with the answers. But first, let’s talk about why the alternative fuel revolution is so important.

Alternative Fuels Driven by a Changing Climate

Climate change is among today’s most – no pun intended – heated debates and social causes. Due to the consequences of a warming climate, global corporations have been forced to rewrite their business strategies to reduce and eventually meet a zero-carbon emission footprint. And this holds true for companies around the world.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are at the heart of climate change discussions, with global economic activity producing CO2 levels estimated to be 50% over pre-industrialization levels. Over the past 50 years, global emissions have risen precipitously with no end in sight. It is this massive rise in GHG emissions that puts us where we are today.

And now the pressure is on. Corporations and governments face extraordinary pressure from key stakeholders, environmental groups, customers, and shareholders to find ways to reduce GHG output from their factories and supply chains. And they are stepping up. You can see it reflected in that an estimated 90% of companies in the S&P 500 provide environmental, social, and governance (ESG) plans and reports to demonstrate how they will reach targeted and actionable carbon-reduction goals.

Even more, companies from all over the world are taking concrete steps to initiate aggressive climate action goals. ESG programs are just one way to do that. Still, more efforts are required since the SEC recently issued a proposed rule that would enhance and standardize the climate-related disclosures provided by public companies. Let’s learn more about that.

The SEC’s Emissions Proposal

Under the SEC proposal, a registrant will be required to adhere to GHG emissions disclosures within qualitative governance disclosures within their annual reports. Aside from adherence to GHG improvements, companies will need to document their emissions certifications for SEC filings. This will add an extra layer of accountability and back-office work for trucking companies. It will also provide them with extra incentive to go green.

Now consider for a moment that medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including tractor-trailers, large pickups and vans, delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks, produce nearly a quarter of all transportation emissions in the United States.

So, how will trucking companies meet the SEC’s new requirements? One way involves replacing gas- and diesel-powered engines with battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or biofuel technology in cars, medium-duty vans, heavy-duty long-haul trucks, and “last mile” delivery vehicles. This shift is already underway. With the Tesla Semi already taking orders and starting to roll off the assembly line, the future of alternative fuel vehicles and EVs is already upon us. And yet, are there headwinds?

While the movement toward this technology has received lots of attention and a high level of investment and headlines, not every alternative fuel technology is ready for primetime. The path forward for trucking companies will depend on their need and the current atmosphere for alternative fuel and hybrid commercial motor vehicles.  

That’s why we wanted to take some time in today’s QuickTSI blog post to explore the realities of moving from diesel-powered engines to EV batteries, hydrogen, or other technologies. The transition for heavy-duty trucks is not easy, but we will illustrate how a well-planned strategy will ultimately serve your trucking company’s best interests.

What Will We Investigate?

Today’s post is going to take you through a comprehensive run-through of all the attributes associated with alternative fuel and hybrid commercial motor vehicles. We will take you through all the latest facts and information. Are you ready?

We will also examine some actionable strategies that can help your trucking company achieve its ESG goals. In the meantime, this guide will help you plan for a future where alternative fuel technologies are the norm.

Get ready to learn more about:

  • Financial costs and considerations when deploying EV or alternative fuel technologies.
  • How to take a logical approach to assess and implement future energy alternatives.
  • Pros and Cons of today’s alternate fuel technologies.
  • Why clean diesel technology is the future.
  • How to implement an alternative fuel truck replacement program.
  • The future of alternative fuel technologies.

A Closer Look at EV Battery Technology

The one problem with moving to an alternative CMV future lies in the fact that our truckers have never been more critical to our health and economy. Trucks that move goods, medicines, technology products, and construction equipment serve local, national, and international economies. They are the lifeblood of the supply chain.

The vast majority of heavy-duty commercial trucks today, ranging from Class 5 to Class 8, run on heavy-duty diesel fuel engines. And while there has been plenty of media coverage pushing alternative fuel concept CMVs, the reality is always a bit more complicated. Still, there is a plethora of start-up truck companies revolutionizing the trucking and truck manufacturing industries. Today, companies are looking to deploy a convoy of long-haul trucks built with EV battery technology.

It is important to remember, however, that many still do not expect electric heavy-duty trucks to take a large share of the market from diesel-burning varieties. At least within the next couple of decades. By some estimates, electric trucks will displace about 700,000 barrels a day of oil demand by 2040. Which still represents only 0.6% of global consumption. No, most CMV emissions come from light to medium-duty trucks. These vehicles use more gas for driving short distances.

Are Trucking Executives Ready?

Here is something to consider. In a recent survey, 54% of fleet managers who responded said they may consider electric class-8 trucks. The caveat? Between 5-10 years from now. That means they aren’t even considering it now. Those who said they are considering it now or currently acquiring EV trucks comprised only 3% of respondents.  Now consider that just one year ago, 30% of respondents said they did not see electric trucks widely in service for another ten years. The gap is getting wider.

There is a reason why executives remain unconvinced. Most companies with transportation fleets continue to believe clean-diesel technology and new low-carbon fuel remain more viable for emissions reduction than a move to EV batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. To them, full EVs or hydrogen-powered vehicles are still too cutting-edge and not yet proven enough for prime time.

Furthermore, a recent ATRI report acknowledged proposed mandates that would require all trucks sold in California to be zero emission by 2040. And yet, even these proposals come with big drawbacks. Put simply, they would require significant changes to freight business models, as well as EV charging and electric infrastructure. In fact, it is likely that many trucking companies would go out of business. Why? Simply because they would not be able to meet the zero-emission transportation targets.

There are also questions surrounding how to make the transportation industry free of emissions without using batteries only. In the end, there are still more questions than answers. That’s why we ask that you join us in our next installment in this series. We will continue to examine the pros and cons of battery technology and alternative fuels.  

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