Moving trucking to zero

Run on Less
Run on Less
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
15 August 2023
Run on Less is the on-road, real-world, demonstration for commercial-battery-electric trucks, showcasing the current state of trucking technology.

Richard Branson and Virgin Unite helped launch the very first Run on Less roadshow back in 2017 and since then have continued to support the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and RMI teams that are working with the industry to find ways to move goods in a more sustainable manner.

Presently the transportation sector is a huge contributor to global carbon emissions, with trucking (particularly in the US) accounting for a disproportionately large share. The increase in the ‘goods movement’ and online shopping has resulted in medium- and heavy-duty trucks becoming the transportation industry’s fastest-growing contributor to emissions.

Over the last nine years the industry has seen tremendous progress – made possible through burning less diesel, moving to carbon-free goods, and using zero-emission trucks. Whilst these changes have been positive, there is still room for improvement when it comes to moving the trucking industry to a place of zero emissions.

This year, Run on Less – Electric DEPOT is featuring 10 fleet depots, each with 15 or more battery electric vehicles in daily use, delivering freight. The trucks taking part in the run (commencing on 11 September and running for three weeks) will be operating in a variety of applications including city delivery, short-haul port support, long-haul, drayage, food delivery and more.

The goal of Run on Less is to help explain scaling considerations, such as charging infrastructure, engagement with utilities, cost implications, driver training and charge management. The NACFE team will also highlight effective partnerships and take a deep dive look into utilities, charging equipment and construction.

“The goal of the Run is to show other fleets that it is possible to scale from one or two battery electric trucks to 15 or more,” says Mike Roeth, NACFE’s executive director. “We recognise that the transition to EVs has some challenges, but we are confident that the lessons we learn from the 10 fleets participating in the Run will help other fleets and those supporting them in their electrification journey.”

Run on Less
Run on Less

In the lead up to this year’s run, NACFE has been talking to fleet managers, drivers, charger manufacturers and charging companies and early impressions and aspirations are incredibly positive.

  • Schneider, a company specialising in digital automation and energy management, is in the process of going totally electric at its South El Monte, CA location. It will have 92 battery electric trucks operational by the end of September.

  • PepsiCo will soon be sharing a first-hand look at how the Tesla Semi is doing hauling heavy loads over long distances on a single charge.

  • OK Produce is on a fast track to implement electric trucks moving fruits and vegetables in a more environmentally friendly manner.

  • Each of the other fleet depots (Frito-Lay, Penske, Performance Team, Purolator, UPS, US Foods and Watt EV) also has a unique story to tell about its journey to the cleaner movement of goods.

Battery-electric trucks are a realistic option for the decarbonisation of trucking and the results of Run on Less – Electric DEPOT will soon help to highlight the places where battery electric trucks are already replacing diesel.

The Carbon War Room (CWR) was founded by Richard Branson and a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to help advance the low-carbon economy – it merged into RMI in 2014 and since then, Virgin Unite has proudly supported RMI’s work to transform global energy use.