The trucking industry’s electric and alternative fuels segment met at the annual ACT Expo conference in Long Beach this week, revealing plans for new vehicles and zero-emission freight solutions.
Here’s a roundup of the latest news from that sector:
New Freightliner eCascadia
Daimler Trucks North America unveiled the production model of its Freightliner eCascadia. The truck company has spent several years working with carriers testing prototypes of the model and has made a series of refinements for the production vehicle.
The company said that the eCascadia is best suited for short-haul routes that allow for depot-based charging. Those uses include last-mile logistics, local and regional distribution and drayage hauling.
The truck will have a typical range of 230 miles, but that will vary depending on the configuration, weather and driving conditions. The eCascadia lineup will have powertrains that range from 320 to 470 horsepower.
It will use an eAxle electric drivetrain integrated with an electric motor, transmission and specialized electronics that produce 11,500 to 23,000 pound-feet of torque, depending on the configuration.
Daimler and Cummins Fuel Cell Team
Daimler Trucks also said it would partner with Cummins Inc. to make a hydrogen fuel cell version of the Cascadia. Freightliner will provide the glider that can be integrated with Cummins’ fourth-generation fuel cell powertrain. Cummins said it provides improved power density, efficiency and durability than the previous version.
The companies will launch validation of the product and hope to have initial units available for initial customers in 2024.
“Cummins and Daimler Truck have a strong history of partnership, and this next step into fuel cell electric vehicles is an exciting development for zero-emissions transport,” said Amy Davis, vice president and president of new power at Cummins. “Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising solution for the demanding requirements of heavy-duty trucking.”
“CO2-neutral commercial transportation must not only be technically feasible, but also economically viable for our valued customers,” said Rakesh Aneja, vice president and chief of eMobility at DTNA. “Depending on the customer application and energy infrastructure considerations, hydrogen-powered vehicles can absolutely complement battery-powered electric vehicles in accelerating our carbon-neutral journey.”
Volvo Electric Truck Orders Grow
Volvo Trucks North America announced several significant VNR Electric regional haul truck orders. While still small compared to the number of diesel vehicle orders the company logs, the sales show momentum is building for its electric truck offering.
NFI Industries, one of the first users of the VNR Electric, will buy another 60 as it works to convert its operations from the Southern California port complex to inland warehouse and distribution centers to zero-emission trucks. It will put the new vehicles into service this year and next.
The company said it wants to operate the first 100 percent zero-emission freight logistics fleet in the U.S.
“NFI’s order of 60 Volvo VNR Electrics is a testament to the positive results fleets are experiencing with Volvo Trucks’ electromobility solution, and a signal to the market that local and regional freight transport can be reliably accomplished with zero-tailpipe emissions,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.
NFI’s purchase latest order is supported by several regional, state and federal environmental incentive programs.
Quality Custom Distribution, a food distributor, ordered 30 VNR Electrics, Volvo said. That builds on an initial order for 14 trucks.
“We now have the experience needed to map out the ideal routes to integrate additional battery-electric trucks, and we’ll use this knowledge as we deploy the additional 44 Volvo VNR Electrics from our distribution centers in Fontana and La Puente, Calif.,” said Shane Blanchette, senior director of operations for QCD.
Incentives also helped fund the purchase, the companies said.
Voorhoeve told Trucks.com that Volvo is taking to many customers and will soon announce even larger orders.
Allison Transmission and Xos Team
Los Angeles electric truck startup Xos Inc. will team up with Allison Transmission Inc. to jointly develop heavy-duty Class 7 and 8 commercial electric vehicles.
Xos will use Allison’s eGen Power e-Axle hardware in the heavy-duty vehicles it is developing. The truck builder said it had received the first unit for integration, validation and testing in its heavy-duty vehicle platforms.
Both companies consider this an important strategic move.
“Allison has acknowledged escalating competition in the eAxle industry, but believes it has a differentiated offering through its fully integrated design where the electric motors, gearbox, brakes and other key components are developed and optimized within the axle to maximize efficiency,” Tami Zakaria, a J.P. Morgan analyst said in a report to investors. “Moreover, it believes its service capabilities provide another key point of differentiation relative to emerging competitors.”
Oshkosh Electric Cement Truck
Oshkosh displayed its electric front discharge concrete placement vehicle, a cement mixer.
The company used the vehicle to demonstrate how it is developing electric offerings across its product line.
It is powered by a commercial duty lithium-ion battery with a ten-year lifespan.
“The vehicle provides energy savings, significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle noise, and lowers total cost of ownership for the vehicle,” Oshkosh said.
The truck performs similarly to a conventional chassis but provides environmentally-friendly performance.
Zakaria said the vehicle demonstrates Oshkosh’s strategy to transition to green vehicles.
“While much higher initial price points continue to be prohibitive for meaningful adoption across its end markets, many of these applications are close or at parity on a total cost of operation basis relative to legacy applications and adoption is likely to accelerate as costs come down in the coming years,” Zakaria said.