While the future is looking electrified, savvy fleets know there are many other options they can lean on. - Photo: Work Truck/Canva

While the future is looking electrified, savvy fleets know there are many other options they can lean on. 

Photo: Work Truck/Canva

If you have been paying attention, even lightly, you have heard the word “electric” more times than you can count. And, while it is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, is it truly the future of work truck fleets? And, is it as big of an alternative as we are being led to believe? 

Truly Zero Emissions?

Probably the first and top concern is exactly how green electric vehicles are. Yes, there are zero tailpipe emissions, so the vehicle itself is not adding pollutants to the air, which is awesome. But that’s not the whole equation. Fleets must look at well-to-wheel emissions, which include the source of the electricity powering your vehicle. 

So, where does your electricity come from if you are in the U.S.? The source of the electricity has a major impact on the final emissions of an electric vehicle. And, where you live has a significant impact on the source of your electricity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the state of Oregon, 46.43% of electricity comes from hydropower. California, however, has 49.4% of its electricity produced with natural gas. 

Let’s check out some options: natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, hydro, solar, biomass, oil, geothermal, and other (fossil). 

Handling the Increased Cost/ROI of EVs is a Challenge 

When fleet managers are reviewing potential vehicle options, overall lifecycle costs must be considered. EVs have a higher price tag, and fleets cannot always count on government incentives.

Overall vehicle costs must correlate to a return on investment (ROI) to make business sense. 

What About Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety? 

Aside from vehicle cost, one of the top concerns related to widespread EV use is range. While many vocational work truck fleets operate under the daily range available on most modern electric work truck vehicles, there is always an exception. A long day out on the road, more auxiliary power needed for a job than anticipated, an emergency request on the way back to the base, etc., can take more power than a “normal” day out. 

Add concerns about range loss due to weight and legitimate concerns related to cold weather, and work truck fleets are still uneasy. 

Electric Charging Infrastructure Still Needed 

We all know it didn’t start with a gasoline station on every corner. Modern vehicle fueling infrastructure as we know it didn’t happen overnight. The first gas station opened sometime between 1905 and 1907, depending on whom you talk to. It wasn’t until 1913 that the first drive-in gas station opened. And, it took until 1919 for gasoline to surpass sales of kerosene. 

It wasn’t until the early 1920s that “curbside” fueling stations began to close due to fire safety ordinances, causing the growth of fueling stations as we know them today. Remember, our highway system wasn’t even established until 1921! It wasn’t until the late 1920s that 24-hour service stations grow in popularity for commercial trucking.

In 1935, the United States had more than 200,000 gas stations. This is about 30 years or so after the first station was built. Today, the American Petroleum Institute reports more than 145,000 fueling stations across the U.S., which is down from its 1930s peak.   

Other Truck Fuel Options Still Exist 

So, are there other options to fuel your truck aside from gasoline, diesel, or electric? It makes me think of a recent social media post that was going around, showing California announcing the ban on the sale of gasoline vehicles by 2035, followed by a news alert from California urging residents not to charge their electric vehicles due to power needs. 

Many of the comments I’ve read on the posts I’ve seen seem to forget one major thing: electricity is not the only alternative-fuel option available to fleets today. There are still other alternatives getting developed and tested every day. Many of which are in use already powering trucks on the road. 

What are you seeing as the future of your work truck fleet? Is it electric, or something else entirely?

E-mail me, and let’s chat! 


Originally posted on Work Truck Online

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

View Bio