Driven by growing demand by large and small corporations and government agencies looking to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution, and boosted by government loans and tax incentives, electric vehicle truck makers and their suppliers expect a major boon in 2010.
According to hybrid truck industry estimates, U.S. production of hybrid commercial trucks is expected to reach 4,850 units in 2010.
As an example, Smith Electric Vehicles U.S., a maker of delivery trucks says its busy trying to meet back orders for a host of customers including Coca-Cola, AT&T and Frito-lay, reports Edmunds.com.
In January, Coca-Cola Enterprises claimed the largest hybrid fleet in North America, with a plan boosting the total number of environmentally-friendly trucks to 327.
Most major truck makers are also developing hybrid diesel-electric drivetrains, and some, including Ford Motor Co. and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unit, have all-electric delivery vans under development, reports Edmunds.com.
Ford’s all-electric Ford Transit Connect van is slated for delivery to the U.S. and Canadian markets in 2010.
Smith’s initial orders are for demonstration electric truck projects from major corporations, fueled by federal and state tax credits for greening their delivery fleets, reports Edmunds.com.
Smith U.S. now makes Class 5 to Class 8 electric trucks, which range in size from 7.5-12 tons and deliver from 20 to 120 miles of range, though it has plans to drop down into the 5- to 8-ton category to compete in the larger Class 3 and Class 4 markets, reports Edmunds.com.
The downside of EV trucks is their high cost, typically triple the price of a competing diesel, but government subsidies and lower operating costs as production increases and the supplier base grows more competitive, as well as low fuel and maintenance costs, should offset some of the initial high tags, reports Edmunds.com.
Smith estimates payback on an electric truck comes within the first five years.
Government subsidies, government mandates and legislation are expected to drive adoption of electric and hybrid trucks, reports Gas 2.0.
As an example, the Kohl-Hatch Heavy Duty Truck Hybrid Tax Credit Bill S. 2854 would extend federal tax credits to $30,000 per truck to purchasers of electric trucks in weight classes like Smith Electric Vehicles U.S 8 ton Edison.
There’s also an appropriations bill pending in Congress that would provide $65 million for the U.S. Postal Service to purchase electric delivery vehicles, reports Edmunds.com.