In addition to technology providers, there is also significant activity at the state and federal levels focused on transitioning this sector to zero emissions. In 2020, California adopted the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) regulation, which sets the first-in-the-nation sales requirements for MD/HD vehicle manufacturers to sell zero-emission trucks starting with model year 2024. Upon the adoption of the ACT regulation in California, 15 states and the District of Columbia announced a joint memorandum of understanding to work collaboratively to advance and accelerate the market. The goal is to reach 100% of all new MD/HD vehicle sales as zero-emission vehicles by 2050 with an interim target of 30% sales by 2030.
California is also pursuing a new policy, Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF), and a Zero-Emission Drayage Truck regulation that requires fleets operating in the state to transition to zero-emission technology between 2024 through 2042. According to these policies, two-thirds of the trucks operating in California should be zero-emission by 2050. We expect other states to follow in California's footsteps and adopt similar requirements for their fleets. Meanwhile, the EPA recently announced new GHG emissions standards for HD vehicles as soon as model year 2030, which will more comprehensively address the long-term trend towards zero-emission vehicles across the HD sector.
This rapid transition is driven by a number of key factors: manufacturers shifting their products to electric; local, state, and federal governments pushing for aggressive policies transitioning the U.S. freight sector to zero-emission; and, most importantly, fleets demanding these vehicles due to lower operational and maintenance costs compared to their diesel counterparts. That’s why it is more important than ever to consider the charging infrastructure needed to power these vehicles. According to the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center station locator, there are currently over 114,000 publicly accessible EV charging ports in the U.S., of which almost 22,000 are DC fast-charging (DCFC) ports and the remaining are Level 2. Of the 22,000 DCFC ports, almost 13,000 of them are Tesla superchargers. In terms of location and power availability, most of these charging stations are built for light-duty vehicles, although some might be suitable for the overnight charging of MD vehicles.
However, due to the high-energy demands of HD vehicles—often power charging of >50 kW—the existing charging infrastructure may not be sufficient. Today, an average Class 8 electric truck consumes about 2 kWh per mile, meaning that for an electric line haul truck to operate similarly to its diesel counterpart, it will need approximately 660 kWh of electricity a day. Even if overnight charging (~8 hours) is feasible, charging power of more than 80 kW is needed. This significantly exceeds the existing charging capacities for light-duty vehicles. Therefore, unlike the traditional gas station business models that work for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles, charging infrastructure models for MD/HD vehicles may vary from those that serve light-duty vehicles.
MD/HD electric vehicles use two primary charging models: depot charging and on-route charging. Base-duty cycles (e.g., delivery vehicles) often utilize depot charging, whereas more intensive interregional freight trucks that go longer distances require on-route charging. Depending on the type of MD/HD vehicle, chargers are either located at a central home base such as a warehouse, distribution center, or a headquarter where trucks start from and return to each day; at the customer’s site, which allow return-to-base vehicles with long routes to charge while unloading; or on major freight corridors using public charging infrastructure. Of course, there are only limited options for depot charging locations and the utilization of these chargers could vary significantly depending on the duty cycle and dwelling time of vehicles within that fleet. However, this is not necessarily the case for public charging infrastructure. Therefore, proper siting of these chargers plays a very important role in the economics of such stations.