For the past several editions of our annual truck preview, electric vehicles have crept more and more into our coverage. This year, electric technology dominates this report, as competition within the zero-emission delivery space intensifies among the major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). A decade or so ago, a number of technologies emerged to serve the growing need for greener fleets, but it seems that these days, battery electric vehicles aren’t sharing the spotlight with many other categories.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest news in that realm, as well as a few updates for more traditionally fueled vehicles ― which, of course, still make up the vast majority of delivery trucks on the road and likely will for quite some time.
Volvo Trucks North America
Volvo Trucks North America announced in September that it is building a community of innovators that are designing solutions to support the global transition to more sustainable transport systems. The Innovation Lab at Volvo Group, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is a place where Volvo Trucks can collaborate with start-ups to combine real-world insights, analyze emerging trends, and validate new products and services aimed at helping customers improve their economic and environmental sustainability goals.
At the Innovation Lab, ideas and collaborations often originate from the start-up community. One successful example is AMPLY Power, an electric vehicle charging and energy management provider that joined the lab in 2019. As a member of the Innovation Lab, AMPLY has shared its insight into some of the charging infrastructure challenges that could deter fleet operators from investing in a battery-electric fleet. In turn, Volvo Trucks has shared its valuable real-world experience gained from working with multiple customers that have installed charging infrastructure to support the deployment of Volvo VNR Electrics.
Released in December 2020, the Volvo VNR Electric model has been deployed to numerous fleets in the United States, including Manhattan Beer in New York. Additionally, Producers Dairy, a central California-based dairy supplier, has placed an order for two Volvo VNR Electric trucks ― anticipated to be the first commercial battery-electric Class 8 trucks to be deployed in California’s Central Valley. In late 2021, these zero tailpipe emission VNR Electric models from Volvo Trucks North America will begin to service Producers Dairy’s fleet routes from its Fresno manufacturing facility to grocery stores in communities along the 40-mile stretch of Highway 99 from Selma to Madera, Calif.
The two Volvo VNR Electric units will be the first battery-electric vehicles in Producers Dairy’s fleet of more than 300 trucks, allowing the company to add zero tailpipe emissions delivery to its list of efforts to improve the sustainability of its entire operations. To support the charging of its battery-electric fleet, Producers Dairy installed two 150 kW DC fast chargers at its Fresno dairy processing facility with the ability to upgrade for future capacity.
Navistar / International
Navistar announced the launch of its new fully electric International eMV Series trucks. The eMV was conceived to tackle everyday use, built to the same rigorous standards as the trusted diesel International MV Series truck, Navistar says. Designed for improved visibility and maneuverability, the eMV is ideal for any straight rail application and is available in four different wheelbase options: 217 inches, 236 inches, 254 inches and 272 inches. It features the Diamond Logic electrical system as standard equipment.
The new eMV combines Navistar’s decades of medium-duty truck experience with the expertise of its zero emissions team, NEXT eMobility Solutions to deliver a fully integrated electrified powertrain and complete ecosystem solution.
The eMV’s battery electric motor provides peak power of more than 335 horsepower (hp) or 250 kilowatt hours (kWh), with continuous power of 215 hp or 160 kWh. The eMV has a 210 kWh capacity high voltage battery that provides a 135-mile range when fully charged. Batteries are packaged between the frame rails for additional protection and under warranty for five years or 100,000 miles. The eMV also is equipped with three levels of regenerative braking, allowing the vehicle to collect kinetic energy from braking and store it in the battery for use. To ensure the driver has complete awareness of the eMV's operational status, a state-of-the-art digital instrument cluster includes information on propulsion and regenerative load, state of charge indicator and regenerative braking indicator.
The vehicle also offers both AC and DC charging capabilities as standard equipment to allow customers to choose the best option for their fleets. The recommended Level 2 AC charging station is suitable for overnight charging and provides roughly 19.2 kW of power, while the DC Fast Charge station option provides as much as 125 kW of power. The Fast Charge station also has the capability to provide multiple power options. At its highest kW input, it can provide a full charge to the eMV in less than two hours.
Navistar notes that it recognizes the adoption of zero emissions vehicles is not a one-size-fits-all solution and aims to assist customers in developing an eMobility business model that delivers on business objectives while realizing clean commercial transport.
In addition to the strong dealer network and support that International has provided, NEXT eMobility Solutions acts as a resource for customers, providing all-inclusive zero emissions education and assistance beginning at buyer consultation and continuing through vehicle end of life. NEXT provides support throughout the entire fleet electrification process including vehicle charging complexities like requirements for proper charging, suitable infrastructure partners, charging installations and collaborations with local power companies to ensure adequate power is available for vehicle charging, it says.
Last year, Hino Trucks announced that it was building a Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell electric truck. The company made good on its promise with the reveal of its first Class 8 Hino XL8 prototype powered by a hydrogen fuel cell electric drivetrain, at the 2021 ACT Expo in Long Beach, Calif., in late summer.
It’s part of Hino’s Project Z, an initiative the company launched last year to develop zero-emission vehicles, ranging from Class 4 to Class 8.
The company also announced the selection of Allison Transmission as its e-Axle development partner for Class 6, 7 and 8 battery electric vehicles. Through the agreement, Hino will integrate Alliison’s eGen Power 100D eAxle into its vehicles.
The eGen Power 100S incorporates several of the core components offered in the eGen Power 100D, and packages these proven elements into a lighter and more compact design best suited for Class 6 and 7 vehicles, and in a tandem configuration for Class 8 6x4 vehicles. Under the terms of the joint collaborative agreement between the two companies, Hino will be the first global OEM to integrate the eGen Power 100S in its Class 6 through Class 8 vehicles.
The eGen Power 100S complements the eGen Power 100D and the eGen Power 130D, expanding Allison’s e-Axle portfolio to cover multiple vehicle applications across medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The single and dual motors respectively integrate with a multi-speed transmission, eliminating the need for additional driveshafts and support structures. Each motor is capable of delivering continuous power of 28 hp (212 kW) and peak output power of 434 hp (324 kW). Allison says that its eGen Power e-Axles are designed to be 100% maintenance-free for the life of the vehicle, significantly reducing downtime and enhancing eGen Power’s total cost of ownership advantage.
BYD also had a few tricks up its sleeve at the ACT Expo at the end of August. The company unveiled two of its new, next-generation battery-electric vehicles. The Gen 3 8TT and 6F feature cabs styled by Wolfgang Josef Egger, the renowned former Audi chief designer. The cabs offer improved aerodynamics and energy efficiency.
The trucks come standard with advanced driver-assistance systems, making driving easier and safer, the company says. The vehicles are equipped with an electronic parking brake system, offer keyless entry and push-to-start functions, and have up to 185 kW CCS1 charging capability. The extended range version of the 8TT and 6F offer a range of up to 200 miles on a charge. BYD currently has more than 8,000 vehicles operating worldwide, including more than 200 battery-electric trucks running in the United States.
Daimler / Freightliner
Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced that the eCascadia and eM2, the first all-electric trucks from the company, are now available for order.
With the opening of the order books to customers, Freightliner and DTNA are getting ready for the start of production in late 2022. In addition, customers can benefit from an integrated approach that enables them to select and specify, as an additional service, the resources of an eConsulting team that will assist and advise on the holistic ecosystem needed to integrate battery electric vehicles into their fleets.
At start of production, both Freightliner battery electric models will come equipped with technology from Detroit, a brand at the forefront of delivering purposeful innovation to help fleets realize the lowest total cost of ownership through the highest levels of performance, quality, efficiency and uptime, it says. The following are the Detroit technologies included in the series-production eCascadia and eM2: the all-new Detroit ePowertrain; the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems; and the advanced telematics service of Detroit Connect.
Composed of an eAxle design and available with a single or dual motor system, the Detroit ePowertrain offers as much as 23,000 pound-feet of torque, giving it ample power for the eCascadia’s gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCWR) of 82,000 pounds. And with maximum range specifications in excess of 230 miles on a full charge for the medium-duty eM2 and 250 miles for the Class 8 eCascadia tractor, both trucks are suited for a wide variety of applications, it says.
In the lead-up to series production of the eCascadia and eM2, and in cooperation with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Bay Area AQMD), which financially supported the pilot fleets, Freightliner has placed 38 trucks into operation with fleets covering a variety of applications, including drayage, regional and local pickup and delivery, and food and beverage delivery. Nearly 750,000 collective miles have been accumulated on the early Freightliner electric fleet to-date, providing valuable data, and customer and driver perspective to Freightliner and DTNA, while allowing myriad customers to test electrification integration into their own fleet operations.
Daimler / Mercedes-Benz
On the lighter-duty side of the industry, in October, Daimler unveiled the Mercedes-Benz Sustaineer, a vehicle based around the Mercedes Sprinter that serves as a technology demonstrator, a glimpse into the future of sustainability in urban delivery.
Sustaineer — a portmanteau of “sustainability” and “pioneer”— is a fully electric van that combines a variety of elements designed to improve the quality of life in cities, conserve resources, protect the climate, and enhance the health and safety of the driver and other road users.
Among those features are fine particle filters on the front module and underbody that reduce emissions by more than 50%, a solar panel on the roof whose energy enables the range of the vehicle to be extended by thousands of miles a year and component parts made from recycled materials. Additionally, with its heating system situated close to the body, there’s increased thermal efficiency, enabling greater driver comfort and greater vehicle range.
In the second half of 2022, Mercedes-Benz will roll out a sustainable repair concept in all van segments to prolong the lifecycle of the high-voltage batteries installed in its vehicles.
The company also is pushing for batteries to be recycled to the greatest extent possible. Mercedez-Benz’s goal is to reduce the use of primary resources used in drive systems and battery technology by 40% by 2030. To protect human rights, the automotive manufacturer will only procure battery cells containing lithium and cobalt from certified mines in the future. Furthermore, every stage of the battery cell providers’ supply chains will be inspected, according to OECD guidelines.
Although electricity might be dominating the manufacturer headlines these days, diesel trucks still dominate the road. And Isuzu Commercial Truck North America has had a number of announcements related to its 2022 diesel-powered vehicles. The 2022 Isuzu F-Series Class 6 and 7 low cab forward (LCF) trucks now feature the Cummins B6.7 diesel engine for the U.S. and Canadian markets. It’s the result of the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain between Isuzu and Cummins, formed in 2019. The Cummins B6.7 is mated to an automatic, six-speed Allison RDS transmission, providing 260 hp and 660 pound-feet of torque.
The FTR and FVR models feature a 50-degree inner wheel cut that gives the F-Series vehicles between 43.7-foot and 65-foot turning diameters. The LCF design and new LED headlamps enhance visibility for the drivers.
Isuzu also announced significant changes that will enhance its 2022 interim model year diesel trucks. Model year 2022i trucks include the addition of an optional advanced driver assistance system that includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning system, standard electronic vehicle stability control (EVSC), new standard and optional fuel tanks, standard four-wheel disc brakes, refreshed exterior and interior design and much more.
The EVSC monitors the truck’s steering wheel angle, individual wheel rotation speed, lateral G forces and more. It works in tandem with anti-slip regulation (ASR), a traction-control system that provides a grip when the truck is on loose or wet surfaces. ASR also is standard on all 2022i N-Series diesel trucks.
Isuzu also is adding rear disc brakes to the already standard front disc brakes on the model year 2022i NPR-HD, NPR-XD, NQR and NRR diesel models.
Fuel tank improvements are being implemented as well. The standard 30-gallon fuel tank now is being built of stainless steel rather than conventional steel to improve corrosion resistance. The tank also is being flush mounted to the top of the frame and will feature top-mounted, three-eighth-inch fuel return and fuel supply ports to help eliminate cutting and drilling the tank during auxiliary fuel port applications.
Finally, the company announced, that it is collaborating with dealer service relationship management (SRM) software supplier Decisiv on a system branded as Isuzu Connect. The Isuzu Connect rollout will focus on quality and efficiency for dealership users by leveraging dealer management system (DMS) integrations such as CDK, Karmak Fusion, Procede and others. This eliminates redundancies and uses the best of both the Isuzu Connect platform and each dealership’s DMS. Isuzu will employ an effective, in-dealer training process that ensures dealer personnel are comfortable using the system for immediate productivity.
The Kenworth new medium-duty models now are in production at the PACCAR assembly plant in Ste-Thérèse, Québec.
The new medium-duty vehicles feature the Kenworth T180 (Class 5), T280 (Class 6), T380 (Class 7) and T480 (light Class 8). The Kenworth trucks are available with the 6.9-liter PACCAR PX-7 and 8.9-liter PACCAR PX-9 engines. Kenworth also offers the near-zero emission Cummins Westport 8.9-liter L9N natural gas engine as an option.
The new, robust yet lightweight, PACCAR TX-8 automatic 8-speed transmission is standard. The transmission can handle as much as 1,000 pound-feet of torque with 57,000-pound GCWR when matched to the PACCAR PX-7 or PACCAR PX-9 engine.
The new trucks offer three hood types to support the lineup’s application versatility — short aero hood (107.5-inch BBC) that accommodates front axles from 8K to 20K pounds, medium aero hood (109.5-inch BBC) for higher horsepower and AWD applications, and Kenworth’s vocational ‘sloped’ hood for the T380V and T480V, which employ a fixed grille for front engine PTO operations. The shorter wheelbases produce a tighter turning radius and enhanced maneuverability for urban operating environments.
The trucks can be specified with either a standard low roof or a raised roof option. The low roof is 63 inches tall, 4 inches shorter than the raised roof, making it ideal for height-restricted applications.
PACCAR’s PacLease division also announced a new fuel program partnership for its full-service lease and contract maintenance customers. PacLease has partnered with Multi Service Fuel Card for its co-branded fuel card, called PacFuel.
With Multi Service Fuel Card as the PacLease fuel card partner, PacFuel customers are provided custom one-on-one consulting to map out the best fuel strategies and potential savings. The enhanced fuel card itself is available in two versions: OTR for use with more than 8,000 commercial truck stop locations and local, which provides mixed fleets the ability to fuel at street level gas stations and is accepted at more than 330,000 fuel and maintenance locations.
The new PacFuel card and corresponding app gives PacLease customers route planning capabilities, plus cash prices at all locations in the network and added discounts at more than 1,200 truck stops throughout the United States and Canada. No enrollment fees or transaction fees (or swipe fees) are collected at in-network locations. Fleet managers can control use of the card, complete with purchase limits. User-friendly online reporting tools allow managers to have complete visibility on fuel purchases and savings. And there is 24/7 customer support.