To double down on its commitment to sustainability and innovation, Quantix is prepping to receive two of the first production Peterbilt Model 579 electric trucks and officially write its name in the books as one of the early adopters of electric vehicle technology.
Last year, Quantix (at the time known as A&R Logistics) worked with Paccar, Schneider Electric and Faith Technologies to prepare electric vehicle charging infrastructure at two sites: one in Savannah, Georgia, and one in Charleston, South Carolina.
The company initially planned to have the new trucks on the road in December 2021, but backlogs in truck orders and production contributed to by COVID-19 pandemic-induced microchip and other component shortages pushed the delivery and implementation to April.
Troy Basso, Quantix’s vice president of maintenance, has been working with Peterbilt to help customize the trucks to best meet the needs of its business and customers.
The Model 579EV features a fully integrated, all-electric powertrain, which uses thermally controlled lithium iron phosphate battery packs to provide a range up to 150 miles.
The company will use the trucks to haul plastic in a drayage operation to the ports of Charleston and Savannah, making three 20-30 mile runs a day with one charging period after the first two runs, and then an overnight charge. Eventually, Quantix will expand the trucks’ run to four per day as the technology proves itself.
“When we told the major producers in the oil and gas, and chemical space that we have these trucks on order, every single one of them raised their hand and asked if they could have it exclusively on their freight,” Quantix President and CEO Chris Ball says.
Prepping for early adoption of electric vehicles has been a lot of work, especially constructing the proper infrastructure, explains Basso. It took Quantix a year to get the proper permitting and get infrastructure.
“What we learned through the process is all buildings and properties are not created equal,” Basso says. “We chose the right facilities to maximize the capital investment. We choose those two [charging sites in Savannah and Charleston] because they’re less than a year old, we had our own transformer and our own power substation. We’re fortunate that we have rail on our property so we didn’t have to have a step up to get us to the 440 required volts.” With a rail head on the property, the voltage for electric vehicle charging is already in place.
Without the luxury of newer infrastructure, Basso says the cost of construction can get really pricey. If a building is more than 10 years old, he says he wouldn’t sink the investment. “It could be a million dollars so fast your head will spin if you have an older building with older infrastructure,” he says.
The South Carolina Port Authority partnered with Quantix on the EV implementation, sponsoring the project with grants to offset the cost of the initial truck itself.
“Most drayage operations drive through economically depressed areas,” Basso says. “EVs may be the answer when we’re moving through these areas so we’re not polluting them. We’re planning on paying very close attention to [this implementation] for 36 months, and putting all our data side-by-side with the data from the diesel trucks in the same area, and then make some informed decisions.”
This article first appeared as a sidebar to the March 2022 cover story in Heavy Duty Trucking.