Despite the hype surrounding the Tesla Semi truck, the future for electric vehicles in the transportation and logistics industry seems to be coming sooner and on a larger scale for fleets serving the last mile. Case in point: Amazon’s order for 100,000 customized electric delivery vehicles produced by Rivian.
“It just makes so much sense for an electric vehicle with that stop-and-go application and that high idle time, inner-city traffic kind of environments,” said Chris Nordh, senior director of Advanced Vehicle Technology and Energy Products for Fleet Management Solutions at Ryder System (NYSE:R).
Nordh discussed the electrification of last-mile operations and the infrastructure to keep EVs charged during Thursday’s virtual FreightWaves Last Mile Logistics Summit. He spoke with Bob Stojanovic, head of EV Charging Infrastructure for North America at ABB (NYSE:ABB).
Ryder has partnered with ABB and In-Charge Energy to offer a comprehensive charging infrastructure solution to make it easier and more cost-effective for fleets to adopt electric vehicles.
Ryder is also embracing the vehicles themselves. The company has ordered 1,000 of Chanje Energy’s electric medium-duty vans for Fedex to use in its delivery operations. The company also is offering C-Series Workhorse all-electric step vans for lease and rental.
“Most of the focus is on the last mile,” Nordh said of its customers’ interest in electric vehicles.
Last mile also is where EVs shine economically.
“It’s partly where the electric vehicle does really well because of brake regeneration, but also where specifically diesel vehicles or internal combustion products do so poorly,” Nordh said.
Nordh and Stojanovic agreed that the biggest barrier to EV adoption in transportation and logistics is simply the lack of available vehicles.
“There’s not that that many producers of electric vehicles right now,” Nordh said.
Gearing up for wider EV adoption
But EV availability will continue to grow. One big driver: California’s mandate that manufacturers begin selling medium- and heavy-duty trucks in 2024, with sale quotas in the years to come.
ABB is working with fleets and EV manufacturers to ensure that a particular charging solution works with a given vehicle.
“It’ll be on us and the OEM to get together [before] the actual commission date to make sure the charger works very well with the vehicles so that there are no issues on site when it’s time to deploy,” Stojanovic said.
As electric vehicle adoption increases so too will the demands on power grids for charging. The trick will be harnessing that power at the right times.
“There’s a lot of spare capacity that is currently not being used,” Nordh said. “As long as you have operations that can utilize charging during those times, the grid will be able to supply that power.”