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MIT Study Finds Electric Trucks Can Save Businesses Money

February 9, 2012

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Using electric trucks can considerably reduce costs for fleets, say researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

MIT News reported that the study, conducted at MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics, found that electric vehicles can cost 9% to 12% less to operate than diesel-powered trucks when used to make deliveries on a daily basis in large cities.
MIT study says electric trucks, like this one from Navistar, have the potential to save businesses money.
MIT study says electric trucks, like this one from Navistar, have the potential to save businesses money.


"We think it's already a viable economic model, and as battery costs continue to drop, the case will only get better," Jarrod Goentzel, director of the Renewable Energy Delivery Project at CTL and one of four co-authors of the new study, told MIT News.

The study used data collected from Staples, the office supplier, and ISO New England, which runs New England's electric power grid. Researchers found that in a situations where diesel was $4 a gallon, trucks with internal-combustion engines averaged 10.14 mpg, hybrid trucks averaged 11.56 mpg, and electric-only trucks averaged 0.8 kilowatt-hours per mile.

Researchers also looked at the possibility of the trucks being part of a vehicle-to-grid system, where batteries could be plugged into the electric grid for 12 hours each night as an additional electricity source for consumers. In a setup such as this, truck owners would receive compensation from utility firms for providing the power service. The study found that from this setup, business owners stand to make $900 to $1,400 per truck per year in V2G revenues, reported MIT News.

Because of this, when V2G-enabled electric trucks take the place of internal-combustion trucks, operational cost decreases from 75 cents per mile to 68 cents per mile. Furthermore, as Goentzel told MIT News, "almost all these costs scale down to the individual vehicle." That means fleets could be much smaller than 250 trucks and still see savings.

While this concept would provide many opportunities for urban commercial fleets, the study concluded it wouldn't apply to rural or interstate deliveries. If the V2G concept does become a reality, urban commercial fleets will likely be the first vehicles used because they can be managed and controlled to connect to grids at regular times in the same locations.

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