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Over the past year, the utility vehicle market has seen major developments in sustainable truck technologies as fleets seek to invest even more to procure more efficient equipment.
the Report on the state of sustainable fleets in 2021, written by Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), the firm that produces the annual Advanced Clean Transportation Expo, confirmed that even in an extremely outlier year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fleets have increased orders and deliveries natural gas and batteries. electric vehicles, as well as for renewable low-carbon fuels.
“Despite a crazy year, a global health pandemic, a resulting economic crisis, the level of investment that we have seen from the supplier and end user side has continued to grow,” said Erik Neandross, CEO of GNA . “We have found that natural gas deliveries have remained very strong. Obviously, we all see in the headlines, investment and growth in the battery electric vehicle industry has continued. But we’ve also seen growth in renewable fuels over the past year. ”
The report provides a technology neutral assessment for medium and heavy industries. This year, GNA updated its report with a 2021 Market and Trends Report, an analysis examining the current state of key clean on-road vehicle technologies for fleet operators. The findings come from hundreds of survey results from medium and heavy fleet operators across the United States, as well as industry data and independent analysis from GNA.
The 2021 report covers several fuels and technologies, including natural gas, propane, electric batteries and electric hydrogen cells. And this year, GNA and its research partners looked at nine different types of applications and compared them to a benchmark of diesel and gasoline, which remain the dominant players in today’s market.
“One of the things that really stood out to us is that 83% of the fleets that responded to the survey confirmed that they plan to increase their use of cleaner fuels and cleaner technologies over the next five years. Neandross explained. “There’s a lot of interest in this end-user market, which of course is so important to make it all work.”
GNA presented five key findings from this year’s analysis:
1. Fleets Report ‘Superior’ Total Cost of Ownership and Fuel Savings during the exploitation of mature compressed natural gas (CNG) technologies in the garbage, public transport and dedicated heavy vehicle sectors, and propane in the schools, paratransit and urban delivery sectors.
The report also highlights a major trend in accelerating ultra-low-carbon renewable natural gas and, in many cases, carbon-negative renewable natural gas to complement the investment in trucks, Neandross noted.
2. Battery-electric vehicles set to become a leading technology for clean fleets in three to five years. The commitments of several large fleets will require deployments of vehicles of several tens of thousands per year. As vehicle costs remain high for this developing technology and OEMs are just starting to enter series production, investments to build this market are already substantial and growing.
“Given the fleet commitments that we have seen, some of the first purchases and orders that have been placed and therefore delivered, OEM commitments to continue to develop and market commercial products, many of which will begin to come online and books. in the next 12, 24, 36 months, ”Neandross said. “Then in the 36 to 60 month period, we really start to see the ramp-up of commercial production and the availability of vehicles increase.
“There has been a lot of feedback on the cost,” he continued. “Battery electric vehicles are still quite expensive, but there is still a lot of interest and anticipation on the overall cost savings, just as we see in CNG.
3. Fuel producers and vehicle manufacturers continued to invest hundreds of millions globally – adding to billions of dollars already committed – building a base for hydrogen fuel cells, doubling the number of models released to market, primarily for mass transit and class tractors 8.
“The hydrogen fuel cell market was another highlight for 2020 with a lot of news and announcements, especially from OEMs and infrastructure providers committing and investing,” Neandross said. “We are seeing hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in this market to build a future hydrogen. We saw a doubling of the number of hydrogen fuel cell models hit the market in 2020, and much of that target was in transit and in the heavy-duty class 7 and 8 market. ”
4. The political mandates and the sustainable development objectives of the company are created request for all clean technologies and will continue to drive growth.
5. Sustainability benefits, including the potential for reduced vehicle and fuel emissions, are improving for almost all existing clean vehicle technologies, including efficiency, renewable fuels and cleaner vehicles. Sustainability benefits remain a major motivator for fleets.
Produced with the support of main sponsors Daimler Trucks North America, Penske Transportation Solutions, and Shell Oil Companyand sponsors Cummins, DTE energy, and Geotab, the report offers additional insight into the key trends shaping the clean vehicles market. The analysis covers public, private and for-hire fleets, including the school, municipal, shuttle, urban delivery, waste, utility, transit, regional and long-haul sectors.
And fleets have a lot to consider in determining which technology is best suited to their operation.
“As the report illustrates, there are some applications where – at least for now – are really suitable for certain alternative fuel technologies,” said Drew Cullen, senior vice president of fuels and facility services at Penske Transportation. , during a May 26 conference Virtual launch of the state of sustainable fleets with GNA. “You really have to understand if your business activity or even parts of your business activity fall into some of these different categories.
“On the diesel side, we are working with [customers] constantly on aerodynamics, speed limiters, idle control, driver training – all of those things that contribute to efficiency and the improvements that come with durability, ”continued Cullen.
Penske works with what Cullen called a “fleet of fleets” – well, large and small fleets, grocery haulers, companies that carry steel over the Rocky Mountains, and so on. Due to its wide range of customers and their applications, Penske offers diesel trucks, natural gas trucks, propane vehicles and battery electric vehicles. Cullen said at the end of the day that it was very important to specify the right vehicle for the specific need.
“Anything that best fits and makes the most sense with the customer’s business goals – the geography they operate in, the service cycles of their vehicles – that’s what we’re going to help them put in place. to set up this vehicle, maintain it, make it run and make it work for them, ”he said.
Regarding renewable diesel and the role it could play in a zero-emission future, Patrick Carré, vice president of commercial road transport and decarbonization sectors at Royal Dutch Shell, stressed that at least on the Based on the evidence from the European commercial vehicle market, a truly zero-emission future will depend on electric and hydrogen-powered trucks.
“These are the most promising technologies that would really take you to that zero,” he explained. “But in the shorter term, in the next five to ten years, I think the renewable diesel efficiency measures, much more efficient driving, telematics and so on. – this whole spectrum is extremely important. If you want to see CO2 reductions in this space now, these are the tools we have at our disposal. This is something that we can really achieve today. “
Regarding the timeline for building the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles, Rakesh Aneja, eMobility manager at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), said it was difficult to set a timeline on the subject of infrastructure. However, he stressed the importance of working with partners in the space “wisely”.
“By 2039, our intention is to offer vehicles that are 100% carbon neutral,” said Aneja, adding that in the meantime, DTNA has set a target of 30% zero-emission buildings by 2030. “It puts at least one stake in the ground. “
In addition to infrastructure and truck construction, Aneja said cost parity is key.
“At the end of the day, trucks are business tools, the cost of ownership perspective has to be there,” he said, noting that as a multiplication problem, if a factor in the equation is zero, the net result will also be zero.