Electric trucks are hitting the road near you

Run on Less
Run on Less
Mike Roeth
by Mike Roeth
29 April 2021
2021 is shaping up to be the year of the electric truck.

Mike Roeth is the Executive Director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) - an organisation working to drive the development of efficient, environmentally beneficial, and cost-effective tech in the North American freight industry.

When NACFE, an organisation that both Virgin Unite and RMI have supported for many years, decided to focus the 2021 Run on Less trucking demonstration on electric trucking, I knew that the momentum for passenger electric vehincles would shift toward freight delivery trucks. Yet those expectations, which were already high, are being exceeded.

Recently the US Department of Energy announced US$100 million in grant funding for alternative fuel trucks, including electric commercial vehicles. I had the honour of being part of the announcement and during the fireside chat, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced the latest round of the SuperTruck programme. It will now fund research, development, and road tests to increase the tech and lower costs for zero-emissions commercial vehicles.

Clean Trucks and Moving Freight on the Road to Decarbonisation

This level of funding and research into the trucking market will have a significant impact globally, since innovation and reduced costs in the US will translate to lower costs for essential parts everywhere, including cheaper batteries that last longer and more infrastructure, like charging stations.

While this is a tremendous step, we still need to better understand the realities of electric trucking in today’s environments. To help close that gap, NACFE kicked off a free, open-to-the-public electric truck education series, Run On Less, which welcomed over 700 participants interested in learning how to deploy electric trucks.

Focusing on fleet managers, utility planners, policymakers, and more, the Run on Less – Electric bootcamp focuses on the ‘how’ of deploying electric trucks, including charging infrastructure, financial incentives, and ways to finance the transition to electric trucks.

NACFE is pleased to share that DHL has recently been added to the 13 innovative Run on Less – Electric participants that will test real-world electric trucks running real routes and carrying real freight later this year.

Run on Less DHL
Run on Less DHL

The participating teams include: Alpha Baking Co., Anheuser-Busch, Biagi Brothers, Cardenas Inc., DHL, NFI, Penske, PepsiCo’s, Frito-Lay Division, Purolator, Roush Fenway Racing, Ruan, Ryder, Inc., SAQ: Quebec Liquor board.

The full line up will be operating coast to coast in North America, from Los Angeles and Vancouver to NYC and Quebec, with participant companies delivering the things we all love and rely on, including home goods, baked goods, snacks, groceries, beer, wine, liquor, auto parts, mail and general freight.

I look forward to sharing more updates on the progress of electric trucking and NACFE’s Run on Less – Electric demonstration. And in the meantime, remember: “If you bought it, a trucker brought it.” Though we hope that we can soon change that saying to: “If you bought it, a trucker brought it in a zero-emissions vehicle.”

Less catchy, sure, but much better for our planet and future.

- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

NACFE has collaborated with Virgin Unite’s Carbon War Room (now merged with RMI) since 2013. In 2017 and again in 2019, Virgin Unite partnered with NACFE on its Run on Less trucking efficiency demonstration events.