Driving Advancements in Electric Trucks via Run on Less – Electric Workshop

September 10, 2021

As part of last week’s 2021 ACT Expo, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and RMI hosted an electric truck workshop Monday afternoon. A zero-emission technology, electric trucks are quickly growing in popularity — as evidenced by the dozens of electric models at the Expo itself — though challenges remain regarding their adoption.

Taking advantage of the fact that so many stakeholders were together in person for the first time in over a year and a half, the workshop featured highly interactive sessions where the approximately 240 participants in attendance were invited to share their biggest concerns as well as their boldest ideas for overcoming these challenges and accelerating electric truck deployments.

Many of the challenges identified echoed those that NACFE and RMI have heard via recent electric truck research, Bootcamp presentations, and Run on Less – Electric (RoL-E) participant site visits. For example, participants mentioned supply chain constraints and battery end-of-life options as concerns as electric truck production ramps up. Dealer preparedness – or, more specifically, a lack thereof – was also mentioned as a factor inhibiting higher electric truck sales. And unsurprisingly, due in part to the recent floods in Louisianna, wildfires in California, and extreme cold in Texas that have led to grid outages, resilience was top of mind for many, with participants expressing concern about vehicle uptime if and when the electric grid fails.

In spite of these challenges, many participants shared reasons they’re optimistic about the future of electric trucks. First and foremost, the promise of a reduced total cost of ownership compared to internal combustion vehicles was compelling for many. Others mentioned the urgency of climate change, the negative health impacts (on both drivers and communities) of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, and better performance and driver satisfaction as factors driving electric truck adoption.

Building on these benefits and challenges, participants were then invited to share their biggest, boldest ideas for accelerating electric truck adoption. Many great ideas were proposed, which participants then ranked through an anonymous, interactive process. The top ideas included:

  • A nationwide clean fuel standard (similar to California’s LCFS program)
  • Public fast charging infrastructure along major highways
  • National ultrafast charging standards
  • Tax breaks for companies who electrify a majority of their fleet
  • Recyclable battery designs
  • A campaign to improve the public perception of electric trucks

The final idea above may have included a call for the next film in the Fast and Furious franchise to include Vin Diesel behind the wheel of an electric truck. (Vin, if you’re reading this, please have your people call our people.)

The ideas and conversations they spurred will be used to help inform NACFE and RMI’s future work on electric trucks. In the meantime, the two organizations continue to spur discussions about and share learnings from early electric truck deployments via Run on Less – Electric (RoL-E), which kicked off September 2 after a sneak peek for workshop participants. RoL-E is a real-world electric truck technology demonstration, featuring 13 trucks driving real routes, carrying real freight across North America. Happening now through September 19, RoL-E features participant profiles, metrics, and daily real-world stories. Learn more at runonless.com.