Yes, Electric Trucks Make Sense For Regional Haul

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Originally published on the Rocky Mountain Institute’s website.

Since 2009, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) have been working with the trucking industry to increase confidence in energy-efficient technologies and practices, as well as guiding fleets as they adopt disruptive new technologies. Through its extensive work on regional haul and electric trucks, NACFE has discovered that regional trucking operations are well suited to be early adopters of electric trucks, and the two organizations are now beginning specific work to identify opportunities and address challenges.

“Our research has shown us that regional haul is an important segment of the trucking industry and also one that makes sense for electrification, given its short-haul nature and return-to-base operation,” said Mike Roeth, NACFE executive director.

Because trucks need to be able to travel long distances, carrying heavy loads, day after day, electrification presents unique challenges to both the vehicle and its charging infrastructure. Together, NACFE and RMI will focus on this complex issue, working on four complementary workstreams:

  • Identifying high-potential regional trucking routes in concert with changes to freight movement;
  • Supporting the implementation of initial and future deployments outside of California;
  • Scaling best practices in infrastructure development for fleets and communities; and
  • Increasing confidence in the value of electrification.

“Electrification of heavy transport is critical to the energy transition, but it’s not an easy road,” said Dave Mullaney, head of RMI’s Heavy Transport initiative. “This is arguably one of the biggest challenges utilities and fleets will face in the coming decades. This problem is solvable, but it requires someone to lead the charge. RMI is excited to partner with NACFE on this important work.”

Specific activities for 2020 will include data analysis, interviews with key stakeholders, collaboration workshops and publishing findings in order to share learnings with all interested parties. This will build on NACFE and RMI’s existing work in this area, including Run on Less Regional, their thought-leadership piece on regional haul, and the Guidance Report series on electric trucks.

Roeth explained that the success of this effort will depend in part on collaboration. “We need people to engage with us by attending our workshops, sharing their knowledge about regional haul and/or electric trucks, or by helping fund this critical work.”

Regional Haul Electric Trucks, courtesy NACFE.

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Since 1982, RMI (previously Rocky Mountain Institute) has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit for more information.

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