Medium- and heavy-duty electric truck sales will see a boost from stricter emissions targets for commercial vehicles and government incentives for clean-fuel fleets, according to Navigant Research.
In a report, the analyst firm forecasts annual electrified powertrain medium- and heavy-duty truck sales will grow from about 31,000 vehicles in 2016 to nearly 332,000 by 2026.
Technology advances and production experience in the bus market can be transferred readily to trucks, and the growing demand for electric cars has stimulated investment in battery manufacture that has resulted in falling battery pack costs, according to the report. However, even with these positive factors, electric drive trucks are still expected to remain a niche market, at around 5 percent of sales in 2026.
The Navigant Research report comes as Ford announces a push toward electrified vehicles: it will make seven new EVs available in the next five years. These include a fully electric SUV with an estimated range of at least 300 miles and two new electrified police vehicles.
To this end the automaker is investing $700 million and adding 700 direct new jobs in Flat Rock (Michigan) Assembly Plant to create a factory capable of producing high-tech electrified and autonomous vehicles. Ford also says it’s canceling plans for a new $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
The moves are part of Ford’s $4.5 billion investment in electrified vehicles by 2020.
The seven EVs include:
- An all-new fully electric small SUV, coming by 2020, engineered to deliver an estimated range of at least 300 miles, to be built at the Flat Rock plant and sold in North America, Europe and Asia.
- A high-volume autonomous vehicle designed for commercial ride hailing or ride sharing, starting in North America. The hybrid vehicle will debut in 2021 and will be built at the Flat Rock plant.
- A hybrid version of the F-150 pickup available by 2020 and sold in North America and the Middle East. The F-150 Hybrid, built at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant, will offer towing and payload capacity and operate as a mobile generator.
- A hybrid version of the Mustang, built at the Flat Rock Plant, that will debut in 2020 and will be available in the North American market.
- A Transit Custom plug-in hybrid available in 2019 in Europe engineered to help reduce operating costs in congested streets.
- Two new, pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles. One of the two new hybrid police vehicles will be built in Chicago, and both will be upfitted with their police gear at Ford’s dedicated police vehicle modification center in Chicago.
This year, Ford begins testing its new generation of EV technology. In Europe, Ford will put the Transit Custom plug-in hybrid on the road later this year. In New York and several major US cities, Ford is testing a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxi and van prototypes.
Moving toward electric and other low-emissions fleets makes financial sense for corporate owners.
As Michelle Livingstone, Home Depot’s vice president of domestic and international transportation, tells DC Velocity in an interview, transportation accounts for 65 to 70 percent of the company’s supply chain cost. Cutting Home Depot’s carbon footprint through better transport management has helped the retailer grow its revenue, she says.
One of the ways Home Depot cuts its transportation emissions is by requiring all of its carriers to participate in the EPA’s SmartWay carbon-reduction program.
“We have taken it a step further by making a SmartWay score a key determinant in the carrier selection process,” she says in the Q&A. “We are one of the founding members of the program, so we want to make sure our carriers know how important it is to us. As for metrics, in 2015 we shipped 4,000 fewer trucks by optimizing our trailer cube. This reduced our emissions by 4,132 metric tons.”
Considering that fuel is the largest single cost for trucking fleets — and that the transportation sector is the second biggest contributor to US carbon dioxide emissions — this sounds like a win for the bottom line and the environment.