In the first part of this two-part series, we looked at states requiring a transition to zero-emission trucks and the network of charging stations, which private enterprise or government must provide, to accommodate electric truck operations. In part two, we examine questions motor carriers must ask when considering electric trucks in their fleets.

The first question is, “where does the fleet operate?” If the fleet predominantly operates in one of the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) states listed in part 1, then the motor carrier may wish to begin incorporating electric trucks sooner rather than later. Incorporating electric trucks in their fleet would gain them operational experience and build a network of experts and suppliers prior to any required transition. This may be especially true as the ACT and MOU zero-emission mandates increase.

ACT and MOU states promoting the adoption of electric vehicles will likely develop public charging stations and networks earlier than other states. Still, the motor carrier will need to ask about charging station locations, hours of operation, truck access, and cost to use.

And wherever motor carriers choose to charge their trucks, they will need to determine what type of connector is in use. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a final rule setting minimum standards for projects in a national rollout of electric vehicle charging stations. FHWA, however, specifically passed on the opportunity to include a definition of a Megawatt Charging System, which experts in the trucking industry anticipate will become the standard connector for charging heavy-duty trucks.

FHWA wishes to avoid building barriers to new technologies. So, motor carriers utilizing electric trucks must double-check available connectors at charging stations. For example, the Tesla Semi electric truck does not appear compatible with some charging systems.

FHWA also did not consider the operational and regulatory environment of trucking in setting charging station standards. Motor carriers have delivery schedules to meet, while truck drivers must operate within hours of service rules. That means motor carriers will want to ask exactly how long a standard charge will require trucks to remain at individual charging stations – and will a truck be permitted to stay connected that long?

Of course, motor carriers have much more control over the type of charging station and connectors installed at their own facilities. For electric trucks with routes that return them home each night, those motor carrier terminal charging stations may be sufficient. Motor carriers in the 15 states that have adopted zero-emission vehicle policies will want to inquire about any state- or utility-sponsored charging station installation programs. One example is the San Diego Gas & Electric utility “Power Your Drive for Fleets” program.

Finally, motor carriers considering electric trucks will have the same two questions posed in part 1:

  • When will the batteries powering electric trucks improve the distance between charges?
  • When will the network of charging stations needed to support long-distance electric truck operations be available?

Until these final two questions are answered, the opportunity for motor carriers in zero-emission policy states to convert their fleets to electric may be limited to short- and medium-range operations.

The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and integrated electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and INFORM™ Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.

Photo: Courtesy of Tesla