It’s long been the case that one of the top challenges to electrification of transport has been lack of models. Consumers like diversity, so the market needs to offer diversity. This is also true in less consumer-focused markets, for a different mixture of reasons. The good news out of the US and Canada is that the number of available and announced zero-emission truck, bus, and off-road equipment models is expected to increase 78% in 2020 — comparing the end of 2020 to the end of 2019.
“By the end of 2020, there will be 169 different zero-emission (ZE) medium- and heavy-duty vehicle models in commercial production compared to 95 models in 2019,” CALSTART reports.
The number at the end of 2020 is expected to more than double by 2023, to 195.
“These figures come from the Zero-Emission Technology Inventory (ZETI), a product of CALSTART’s Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero program (Drive to Zero). Launched in March of 2020, ZETI is an interactive online tool that tracks the growth of the ZE commercial vehicles globally, as measured by model availability.”
The reason for the increase in models is, naturally, growing demand for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. This growing demand is coming from all levels of government as well as corporations, as all parties are typically working — to some degree or another — to cut their emissions in order to help stop global heating and also reduce deadly air pollution.
In that CALSTART press release linked above are statements from some of the most notable corporate buyers, IKEA and UPS, as well as one of the largest suppliers of this market, BYD. BYD states that it has sold over 60,000 fully electric commercial vehicles worldwide to date. Expect that number to double before too long.
The CALSTART press release also lists these recent corporate plans for zero-emission vehicle procurement as examples of where the market is shifting:
- UPS announces investment in EV startup Arrival while also ordering 10,000 EV delivery vans for use in North America and Europe. Hyundai and Kia also announce €100 million investment in the UK-based startup Arrival.
- FedEx will purchase 1,000 all-electric delivery vans from manufacturer Chanje.
- Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Michigan-based startup Rivian.
- IKEA has committed to all electric home deliveries worldwide by 2025, and by the end of 2020 in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam, and Shanghai.
One more reason for the goring number of models, and the growing demand, is that the technology keeps improving. Battery costs keep coming down. Battery chemistries keep improving, offering more energy density. Manufacturing processes keep scaling up and getting more efficient. Electric motor technology keeps advancing. And so on.
“We are already seeing a healthy number of zero-emission transit and school buses rated for at least 100 miles, and the zero-emission trucks currently on the market offer similar ranges,” said Ben Mandel, CALSTART’s Northeast Regional Director who leads the ZETI team. “In the coming two-to-three years, we expect to see a growing number of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the 200-mile or greater range, with a few extra long-distance models greater than 600 miles by 2023.”
As a final note, perhaps the most important one, CALSTART highlights that it has created a policy toolbox to help more municipalities, states, countries, and corporations go electric.
“In addition to the new data from ZETI, today CALSTART’s Drive to Zero program is releasing an updated version of its Policies and Actions Toolkit. The Toolkit, unveiled in 2019 at the Tenth Clean Energy Ministerial and Fourth Mission Innovation Ministerial in Vancouver, is a portfolio of the key policies, incentives and investments governments and industry can take to spur faster near- and zero-emission commercial vehicle deployment. Since its inception, the Toolkit has grown by roughly 50 percent, adding new policies, actions and categories of drivers for ZE commercial vehicles.”
Check out that toolbox, and pass it along to your local, regional, state, or even national leaders — and also up the corporate ladder if you work at a corporation that might take this seriously. Small actions can lead to big actions — in more cases than we probably realize.