Historically trucking fleets have invested in alternative fuel vehicles as a way to reduce the total cost of ownership through lower fuel costs, but environmental factors are now driving investment in zero- or near-zero-emission trucking technologies.
That’s one of the key takeaways from a report released Tuesday providing an overview of the most common sustainable fuel platforms for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
Sponsored by heavy hitters including Daimler Trucks North America, Penske Transportation Solutions and Shell Oil, the State of Sustainable Fleets report includes insights into sales trends, projected vehicle development timelines, real-world infrastructure and fuel costs, and the growing adoption of renewable fuels.
The analysis, authored by green vehicle consultancy Gladstein, Neandross, and Associates (GNA), covers four categories of vehicles: natural gas, propane, battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell. It also summarizes sustainability trends in “baseline technologies” — gas and diesel.
Much of the information in the report has appeared in other case studies on zero or low emissions trucking, and its overarching conclusion will be familiar to those who follow the industry: Trucking companies are stepping up adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, but upfront costs and lack of infrastructure remain barriers to adoption.
What distinguishes this analysis from the past literature on clean trucking is its comprehensive and technology-neutral approach. The 141-page document features interviews, surveys and third-party research, and includes detailed data from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and fleets such as the logistics giant UPS and Waste Management that have real-world experience deploying clean technologies.
Here are a few of the report’s top takeaways:
- Sustainability is a top motivator:
Concerns about air quality and climate change are the top motivator for purchasing decisions among early-adopter public, private and for-hire fleets in deploying clean vehicle technologies.
- Clean technology is more than a trend:
Ninety-eight percent of fleets surveyed currently using sustainable technology expect to continue at the same level or increase their use of these vehicles and fuels.
- Renewable fuels can perform:
Fleets confirm there is no significant performance loss when switching to most renewable fuels — renewable diesel, natural gas and electricity — and they would use more when it is a cost-neutral, drop-in replacement.
This story will be updated following a webinar about the report that takes place later Tuesday morning.