Huge Growth in US Electric Truck Market Expected as Federal Fleet Shifts to EVs

(Credit: Freightliner)

by | Jan 28, 2021

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(Credit: Freightliner)

The US government’s recent shift in attitude toward confronting climate change will drive huge growth in the electric truck market; having largely lagged behind China and Europe in electric commercial vehicle deployment, the transition to zero-emission vehicles in this sector is set to begin in earnest, according to a new report from IDTechEx.

In what he called the “largest mobilization of public investment in procurement, infrastructure and R&D since World War Two,” President Biden is planning to replace the government’s fleet of combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles built in the US. The US federal fleet currently comprises about 650,000 vehicles, with around 100,000 medium-duty and 40,000 heavy-duty trucks in the inventory, according to the US General Services Administration. The move is an indication that the new administration sees vehicle electrification as both a strategy for reducing GHGs and for supporting the US auto sector, according to the report.

More Factors Driving Growth

Other factors driving the growth of the electric truck market include the California Air Resources Board’s Advanced Clean Trucks regulation — which last year mandated that 75% of new Class 4-8 ridged truck and 55% of new tractor truck sales in the state must be zero-emission by 2035 — and the fact that there is growing evidence of significant demand for commercial EVs from major US corporations. These factors should give great confidence to truck manufacturers and their supply chain that the market for electric trucks will be worth the resources and investment that is necessary to transition away from the combustion engine.

While established OEMs including Freightliner (Daimler), Volvo and Pacer are already conducting extensive real-world pilots of heavy duty-electric trucks, Biden’s support for EV should result in efforts being ramped up to get significant numbers of zero emission trucks on the road.

What about Long-Haul?

Long-haul EV trucking will remain a challenge because of the mass of batteries required and the likely need for ultra-fast charging, but there is still a significant market for medium and heavy-duty trucks that do not require extensive range.

For example, Pepsi’s director of fleet engineering and sustainability recently said that of the company’s Class 8 trucks at their Sacramento facility, 93% travel less than 100 miles a day and are parked for 15 or more hours at a time — more than enough time for charging, the report points out.

Such applications for trucks with a lower daily range mean that long-haul is not a necessity for market growth in the short term. Manufacturers and parts suppliers not already making strong plans to transition to zero-emission power trains are likely to find themselves left behind, IDTechEx says.

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