Report explores nation’s best-suited regions for expanded use of commercial electric trucks

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Truck on Highway in Colorado
A report recently released by the North American Council for Trucking Efficiency and the Rocky Mountain Institute identifies five regions of the U.S. as suitable for expanded use of commercial electric trucks.

BOULDER, Colo. — Five regions of the U.S. have been identified as possessing characteristics required for successfully expanding the use of electric vehicles in freight transportation, according to a report released by the North American Council for Trucking Efficiency (NACFE) and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

By increasing the use of commercial electric trucks in these regions, the two organizations hope to reduce the sectors’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while retaining the important function of trucking in transporting supplies for health care as well as food and other necessities.

Recognizing places with the most favorable conditions for adopting wide-spread electric trucking is a key strategy in helping the trucking industry use more electric vehicles, according to NACFE and RMI. The top regions share named in the report share certain traits, including include natural conditions such as mild weather, access to necessary technology, and a pressing need to improve air quality while also already existing large quantities of freight.

The five regions noted in the report include:

  • Northern and Southern California;
  • The Texas Triangle (an area of Texas that is roughly bordered by Dallas, Houston and San Antonio/Austin);
  • The Rocky Mountain Front Range (a mountain range of the Southern Rocky Mountains located in the central part of Colorado and the southeastern portion of Wyoming);
  • Cascadia (a geographic region in the Pacific Northwest); and
  • The Northeast (an area along the Atlantic Ocean that’s bordered by Canada, the Southern U.S. and the Midwestern U.S.).

According to the NACFE and RMI, these areas are conducive to “regional haul” trucking, which generally features routes of less than 300 miles per day with drivers often returning their trucks to a base at night. Batteries already exist to support this driving distance, and charging infrastructure would be less complex to deploy, the organizations said.

“We are confident that there will be a significant, early wave of electric tractors in regional haul. For success, they need to be deployed in the regions where they will be most successful. This comprehensive framework is a strong start.” said Mike Roeth, executive director of NACFE.

The report also examines the ways in which cooperation between trucking fleets and multiple stakeholders is crucial to success:

  • City and state incentives can help utilities with essential funding for infrastructure, which creates increased revenue for utilities as well as incentivize trucking fleets to switch from diesel-fueled trucks.
  • Trucking fleets can partner with local technical schools and colleges to find and train staff to drive, manage and service electric trucks, creating local economic opportunity and job creation in a green economy.
  • Early planning between stakeholders is crucial to building infrastructure and helping truck fleets acquire vehicles, while also helping regions avoid grid infrastructure problems or other challenges.

“In considering where to deploy electric trucks, there’s a lot to think about — everything from charging infrastructure to which climates the technology operates the best in to where the most funding and incentives are available,” said Patrick Browne, director of global sustainability for UPS. “This framework helps not just fleets, but utilities, OEMs, policymakers and others think through the many considerations to ensure that wherever they deploy electric trucks that they’re a success.”

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