There is an electricity in the air when discussing electric trucks in the trucking industry. These trucks will eventually save trucking companies and owner-operators millions of dollars in fuel costs. Even drivers can get excited when those savings are passed down to company employees.
The path to fully electric fleets is not a direct line, however. The initial costs are high, and many trucking companies won’t immediately replace their entire fleet with expensive Tesla models.
Many older trucks still have life in them. And while President Biden has announced an ambitious infrastructure plan, the upfront costs to create a national network of EV charging stations will receive pushback.
But what if there was a way to transition existing fleets into hybrid trucks to save money and get better mileage in the meantime? That’s where eTruck Transportation comes in.
Who is eTruck Transportation?
ETruck Transportation is a family-run company based in Omaha, Nebraska. The company focuses on converting existing trucks into hybrid diesel/electric vehicles.
Their technology allows trucking companies and owner-ops to begin saving money now. Not one year in the future. Not two years. Right away.
According to eTruck Transportation, there are 11.7 million eighteen-wheelers running in the world that get an average of 5.5 MPG. eTruck’s technology, which transitions these vehicles into diesel/electric hybrids can allow the trucks to reach 14 MPG.
The President of eTruck Transporation, Russell Knudson, spoke to Transport Topics and explained that eTruck Transportation’s goal is to fill the electric niche right now, so trucking companies can act immediately rather than wait around for 5 years.
The company has recently partnered with Principal Solar, an investor and acquirer of energy companies of the future.
How Does eTruck’s Conversion Work?
Right now, eTruck has been converting used Freightliners with a simple process. They remove the diesel engine, but leave the transmission.
Everything remains the same except the diesel engine. That is then replaced with an eTruck electric motor that mounts directly to the transmission. Battery packs will be mounted on the frame rails.
The company hopes that eventually trucking companies and customers will be perform their own transitions to the unique eTruck motors after a period of training.
Is eTruck’s Transition Model the Immediate Future?
Currently, eTruck Transportation is mostly transitioning Class 6 trucks. These trucks, mostly box trucks, are used for simple eCommerce deliveries.
The trucks can be out and back in 8-10 hours, so the trucking companies or customers can provide their own charging solutions. As eTruck Transportation expectedly expands into Class 8 trucks which will be used for long-haul runs, the issue of charging infrastructure comes to the foreground.
If the new infrastructure bill passes or charging solutions at truck stops become more popular, then eTruck Transportation could see their method of transitioning existing trucks become the dominant one in the market until fully-electric long-haul trucks come into their own many years in the future.
As it stands, the model of transitioning existing trucks to hybrid solutions with superior MPG is a promising one for the trucking industry.