These barriers include:
Out of this list, the most critical are limited charging
infrastructure and range. Both of these limitations will be improved
within the next ten years, but until then it will be more difficult
for fleets to adopt BEV’s.
Limited Charging Infrastructure
The lack of charging infrastructure can be resolved by state governments, utilities, equipment providers, and customers working together. The vast majority of fleets are planning to install their own charging infrastructure, instead of relying on third-party sites. This means that the responsibility of implementation rests with the transportation company. The largest barrier companies face is cost. This makes available state and federal incentives and rebates critical. The timeline for planning and installing a charging infrastructure is typically two years or more. Fleets should begin discussing their charging equipment needs and layout now.
Range anxiety, a term that has been coined within the transportation industry, is the apprehension that comes from not knowing if a vehicle will make it to a charging station before running out of power. The range of BEVs will gradually improve as battery power density improves. In the meantime, range anxiety can be mitigated by fleets using advanced features such as real-time range prediction, advanced route planning, and accessory power consumption estimation.
Initially, vehicle range is expected to be between 100 and 250 miles
for most light- and medium-duty vehicles, with a higher range
typically accompanying higher Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The
estimates in the chart below do not consider the decreased range
experienced when a TRU pulls power from the chassis, which could
impact the range by 30% in some cases. To minimize range loss from TRU
operation, drivers should plan to pre-cool their vehicles as much as
possible during stationary operation.
One technology that continues to make progress and helps improve a BEV’s range is fuel cell technology.
Progress of Fuel Cell Technology
Fuel cell technology is making progress. In the last two years, it has gained industry acceptance as a viable technology to replace diesel. However, there are a few obstacles that are preventing the industry from clearly seeing the future of this technology. Durability, system cost, fuel availability, and hydrogen fuel prices are the main obstacles that need to be addressed. Fuel cell technology can be a viable replacement for diesel and act as a range extender for BEV’s. However, the use of fuel cell technology is not plug and play, and the hydrogen supply chain will create a sharp learning curve for fleets.
Fuel cell technology will likely be best suited for long-haul or
regional trucking applications. There are still concerns around how
heavy a fuel cell truck could be — potentially 5,000 lbs. more than a
diesel truck. Ultimately, economics will drive fuel cell usage in
trucking. Fuel availability and pricing will play a heavy hand when it
comes time to make decisions about technology investment and fleet
adoption, as well as whether or not a hydrogen economy materializes
within the next couple of years.
Light- and medium-duty vehicles are in the midst of transitioning to
zero-emission technology, and heavy-duty trucks will follow. But full
adoption won’t be possible until the obstacles around charging
infrastructure and limited range are addressed.
Learn more about electrification
solutions from Thermo King
Paul Kroes, Market Insights Leader for North America
Paul Kroes is the market insights leader for Thermo King Americas. In this role, he drives insights regarding customer and market performance, as well as technological trends and implications for the company. Kroes has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Minnesota.
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