Penske Truck Leasing and NFI have agreed to partner with Daimler Trucks North America in operating the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet of electric vehicles which includes the recently unveiled heavy-duty eCascadia and eM2 106 medium-duty trucks.
Through its Innovation fleet of 30 vehicles, DTNA will involve customers in the development of commercial electric vehicles in order to better understand how they will be used and where they will be most effective. Penske will take on 10 eCascadias and 10 eM2s for use in California and the Pacific Northwest, while NFI will use 10 eCascadias for drayage activities in Southern California.
The Innovation Fleet will start delivering vehicles to Penske and NFI as soon as late 2018. To speed up the development process, DTNA will also operate electric trucks within its own Product Validation Engineering test fleet in Oregon. The company plans use knowledge gained form these partnerships to prepare its facilities and fleet operations for electric trucks as soon as 2021.
“Running multiple trucks in real-world applications will provide better insights for our engineers into the requirements of integrating electric commercial vehicles into fleet operations," said Roger Nielsen, president and chief executive officer of DTNA. "We are partnering with these two customers for this phase of the co-creation process because they have use cases that closely fit the target applications we have identified.”
DTNA has also announced the Electric Vehicle Council has been tasked with preparing customers in evaluating and integrating electric vehicle solutions into their operations. The information from Innovation Fleet testing will be shared with the customer base through the Council. It will also discuss planned product offerings with customers and gather feedback as the company moves toward commercializing electric trucks.
The Electric Vehicle Council will also work with customers to establish the necessary charging infrastructure, vehicle deployment, and service support that will be required when electric trucks become commercially available. DTNA also plans to offer consulting services to assist with site selection based on truck applications, available government incentives, infrastructure deployment, and route identification as part of a preliminary review prior to commercial electric vehicle business proposals.
"The DTNA approach to bring commercial electric vehicles to market is holistic. With the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet, we will be working, hands on, with Penske and NFI," said Richard Howard, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Freightliner Trucks. "While heavy-duty electric vehicles present the greatest engineering challenges, we're committed to a process that leads to series production vehicles that are safe, reliable and efficient.”