Can Electric Trucks Meet the Challenges of Fleet Operations?

A trial event managed by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and the Rocky Mountain Institute is currently putting electric trucks to the test to determine their viability in fleet operations. The event, called “Run on Less: Electric Depot,” focuses on the challenges associated with running larger fleets and providing the necessary charging infrastructure. It aims to provide companies with different trucking requirements the confidence that electric trucks can work for them.

Ten fleet depots have been equipped with charging infrastructure to support fleets of electric trucks, while traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks continue to operate alongside them. The energy and fuel consumption of both types of trucks will be tracked and compared.

Participants in the trial include United Parcel Service, Frito Lay, and Pepsico. Pepsico is running a fleet of Tesla semis for long-distance deliveries across California. After one week of the trial, some interesting results have emerged from the live data stream.

One notable highlight is the performance of the Tesla semis. In the first six days, these trucks have consistently averaged 770 kilometers per day, with some trips exceeding 1,000 kilometers. The eCascadia trucks in the Schneider fleet are also performing well, with an average of about a dozen deliveries and 250 kilometers per day.

The UPS parcel vans, on the other hand, are covering about 50 kilometers per day and making dozens of deliveries. Surprisingly, they are not relying heavily on energy regeneration. The manufacturer suggests that this design choice was made to ensure the vans feel familiar to UPS drivers, although they may consider adding multi-level regeneration in the future.

The trial is shedding light on several key insights. First, it illustrates a shift in focus from improving the fuel economy of ICE trucks to running fleets of battery electric trucks. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, in contrast, are noticeably absent from the trial. Second, it underscores the need for Australia and other countries to catch up in decarbonizing heavy transport. Hopefully, the knowledge gained from this trial can be readily applied to accelerate progress in other regions.


– North American Council for Freight Efficiency

– Rocky Mountain Institute

– Run on Less Website