Before you know it, electric trucks are going to be rolling down country roads and city streets. NRECA is partnering with two heavyweights in the trucking industry to make sure co-ops are ready.
Daimler's Freightliner division plans to introduce medium-haul electric trucks in two markets later this year. In California, they'll be used to carry goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In Oregon, they'll make deliveries around the Portland area.
Daimler already has electric trucks rolling in Europe and Asia and is "very excited about the potential that electric trucking has here in the United States," said Brian Sloboda of
NRECA's Business and Technology Strategies Department (BTS).
The Freightliner eM2 106 is a medium-duty delivery truck. It has a 230-mile range and can be charged to 80 percent capacity in an hour.
"As we look into the future, and we look at trucking, anything going into cities for deliveries is probably a very good candidate for electrification," said Sloboda, noting the electric trucks are quiet and emissions-free. "If you're a co-op in a suburban area, and you have warehouses or distribution centers, you should be expecting that those facilities will install chargers."
The Freightliner eCascadia is a heavy-duty long-distance truck with a 250-mile range. Its battery can reach 80 percent capacity in 90 minutes.
"As we go five, 10, 15 years down the road, as the technology increases, we can start to see long-haul trucking becoming electrified. And that means co-ops that serve truck stops—and we serve a lot of those along the interstates and major highways—those facilities are going to be putting in charging infrastructure to support those trucks," said Sloboda.
So not only is BTS working with Daimler, it's also consulting with Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, which, according to its website, has 460 locations in 41 states. It's a two-way street: BTS wants to know about Love's vision for an electric truck future, and it wants Love's to know what co-ops will need.
"More importantly, we're talking about how they can have a partnership with the local co-op when they look at the chargers, so they can explore options like energy storage and solar PV," said Sloboda, adding that Love's is very interested.
The hope, he said, is that Love's and the local co-op serving a location can form a partnership and talk about "how the storage and the PV can interact with the distribution network owned by the co-op, and how the co-op might be able to use those assets for grid support and resiliency."
It's important, Sloboda said, because charging a truck is very different from charging a car.
"That can be a very large load in a facility at a rural interstate exit that does not really have the distribution infrastructure necessary to support it," he said. Improvements could cost millions, but if co-ops and Love's partner, both sides can save big.
Co-ops need to be a key part of any electric truck infrastructure plan, so if you serve truck stops, warehouses or distribution centers, Sloboda said to reach out to them soon.
"It's still several years down the road, which means start talking now, start educating yourself on what those requirements would be."