When we think of trucks, we usually think of over-the-road trucks, or the trucks hauling cargo across states and across continents. Movies and TV shows about long haul truckers are popular because of the independent lifestyle they offer. But there’s another type of trucking that’s even more important, and that’s the kind that happens right in our own neighborhoods.
These are the trucks delivering groceries to our local stores, or picking up trash from our homes. They’re the backbone of our economy, and they’re responsible for a huge amount of pollution. But there’s another kind of truck that most people don’t know about that goes on even shorter runs. They go by many names, like yard dog, yard truck, terminal truck, hostler, spotter, yard horse, goat, and even mule. These trucks don’t have space to sleep, or even space for a passenger. The only thing they do is carry loads from one part of a yard, terminal, or railroad hub to another.
Their job isn’t that interesting, but it’s an essential part of the job of trucking. And these trucks have a big problem. They’re usually diesel-powered, and they produce a lot of pollution. In fact, they’re responsible for a significant portion of the trucking industry’s contribution to climate change.
That is why Orange EV is attempting to transform the trucking business by electrifying this critical aspect of it. In 2015, Orange EV was the first company in the United States to commercially deploy 100% electric Class 8 trucks, not long after having been founded in Riverside, Missouri, in 2012. Orange EV specializes in Class 8 yard trucks, which are employed to move trailers and containers in distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, rail intermodals, ports, and other areas where goods movement is essential. Orange EV has maintained its position as an industry leader since it was founded in 2012 as an electric vehicle pioneer.
“Orange EV’s mission is to deliver electric vehicles that are better than legacy diesel ones in every way — for the earth, people, and the business bottom line,” said Kurt Neutgens, Orange EV Co-founder, President, and CTO. “With this funding, Orange EV will be able to further scale its impact through continued investment in manufacturing to meet the demand that is outstripping our current facilities, as well as advance R&D to develop and deliver other products which will further improve our customer’s operations while providing them significant savings.”
EV yard trucks from Orange save businesses money, are safer, 10 times more dependable, and rated higher by drivers and supervisors when compared to their diesel predecessors. There is an increased demand to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles at scale as the cost of gasoline rises and more organizations around the world set aggressive targets for eliminating fossil fuels. Yard trucks are known to be the truck of choice for making immediate and long-term emissions reductions, saving 1,700 tons of carbon dioxide every vehicle over a 15-year service life.
“S2G Ventures is investing in the transition to the clean energy, low-carbon economy and we are excited for the positive impact Orange EV will make. The company has led the industry ever since its first truck was released in 2015 and now has the security to truly innovate and exert its leadership role in this market for a long time to come,” said Stephan Feilhauer, Managing Director, Clean Energy at S2G Ventures. “Orange EV’s trucks have a lower total cost of ownership than diesel, give their customers a tangible way to lower their carbon footprint, and dramatically improve their drivers’ experience, while also saving money along the way – this is what a successful energy transition looks like.”
Why This Story Matters
According to the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, yard trucks are one of the finest, if not the finest, electric vehicles for transport companies to adopt today. Orange EV says it has nearly singlehandedly created this trajectory for the industry.
Why are they such a great vehicle to go electric on?
ICE vehicles are not as efficient when they drive slowly. They’re much more efficient when they’re driving on the highway. But, unfortunately, a lot of time is spent idling in distribution centers and other places where these trucks operate. When a vehicle isn’t moving, it gets zero MPG, and does this with pretty high emissions.
That’s why electrifying them is such a good idea. You can get the benefits of electric vehicles — which are very low emissions and very low operating costs — without having to go through the trouble of installing a bunch of charging infrastructure. EVs tend to be at their best efficiency in stop-and-go scenarios and low speeds, making them ideal for the job of moving things around a yard or terminal.
This is a big deal because, as we’ve seen with passenger cars, it’s not enough to just make electric vehicles. You have to make them appealing to customers, and that means making them cheaper and easier to use than the vehicles they’re replacing.
Part of the appeal of EVs is that they’re more reliable and cheaper to repair. They have far fewer moving parts than internal combustion engine vehicles, and they don’t require oil changes or other regular maintenance. This can be even worse for trucks that idle a lot, fouling up engine oil and otherwise damaging themselves by not getting warmed up the way an over the road truck does.
For trucking companies, the challenge is that diesel trucks are so cheap to operate that it can be hard to justify the upfront cost of an electric truck. But as battery prices continue to fall, that equation is changing. First, it changed for these trucks, as we’ve seen happen with Orange. Next, it happened with local trucks doing lower speed routes in cities (another scenario where there’s a lot of idling).
Of course, the next frontier for electric trucks will be long drives down the interstate, but once we get there, most of the worst polluting and inefficient will be dealt with. Orange is playing an important part of that story.
Featured image provided by Orange EV.
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