We’ve been hearing a lot about electric trucks lately, and rightly so—electrifying heavy-duty vehicles delivers a lot of emissions-reduction bang for the buck, and electric trucks in all classes are steadily becoming more economically feasible.
Most of the media coverage of electric trucks focuses on well-known manufacturers such as Daimler and Volvo, and of course Tesla. However, the former two are just beginning to deliver e-trucks to US customers, and the latter has been working on its Semi since 2017, but so far has not officially delivered any.
Meanwhile, Orange EV, founded in 2012, says it has deployed over 370 trucks to some 100 fleet customers in 24 states. According to a recent report from CALSTART, Orange has the most electric trucks in service of any currently active manufacturer (the ill-fated Smith EV has delivered more trucks, but ceased operations in 2017).
The CALSTART report also notes that, as of the beginning of February, there were around 1,215 medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission trucks on US roads, and 140,000 more on order. Some 145 models are currently available for purchase from at least 30 manufacturers.
Above: a look at an Orange EV truck (YouTube: AutoMotoTube)
Orange EV found a good niche for electric trucks early in the game—the company deployed its first Class 8 electric terminal truck in 2015. The duty cycle of a terminal truck (aka drayage truck or yard goat) is right in the sweet spot for battery-electric propulsion. A 2021 report from ACT Research found that BEV yard trucks offer a lower total cost of ownership than diesel-powered vehicles, and predicts that adoption rates could exceed 50% by 2024.
“From the beginning, Orange EV committed to working closely with every customer to not only deliver a complete truck, service, and charging solution, but also to incorporate feedback to continually improve truck performance and uptime,” said Orange EV co-founder and President Kurt Neutgens. “As a result, uptime for our latest yard trucks averages 98-99%, compared to legacy diesel uptime in the 75-80% range reported by our customers.”
“Customer data from hundreds of deployments has proven that fleets are saving money with safer, more reliable, emission-free trucks, even without incentives,” said VP of Sales and Marketing Zack Ruderman. “While early customers leveraged grants for initial purchases, over half of 2021 sales did not. Orange EV has already been able to deliver lower total cost of ownership, while many other EV types and manufacturers are still working to get there.”