Orange EV, a Kansas City startup, wants to capitalize on increasingly stringent environmental regulations at ports, railyards and cargo depots by introducing a line of heavy-duty electric T-Series terminal trucks.
The small vehicle manufacturer estimates the annual market for new terminal trucks – diesel or electric – ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 vehicles. But with state environmental incentives of as much as $150,000 per vehicle, there is a growing market for these types of electric yard and drayage trucks – which move cargo around at ports and storage yards, said Mike Saxton, the company’s chief commercial officer.
Orange EV is going after customers such as Nolan Logistics Inc., a Jeffersonville, Ind. company that provides onsite container and trailer movement for its clients at manufacturing sites and distribution centers and.
Nolan Logistics has purchased eight trucks for about $1.84 million from privately-held Orange EV this year.
“We have been a big fan of electric as the future of transportation,” said Wayne Nolan, the company’s president. “We’ve been a long-time operator of electric vehicles and were early fans of Tesla, Nissan for their Leaf, and now Orange EV.”
The trucks get constant use, but never travel very far. They are used to haul cargo around tight spaces that larger semi-trucks can’t navigate. The trucks, also known as spotter trucks or yard mules, pick up the containers that tractor-trailers drop off and deliver them to dock doors to be unloaded or loaded.
The Orange EV trucks look like the diesel yard trucks of the last 60 years. But inside, they have an electric drive system powered by lithium ion battery packs of 80 or 160 kilowatts hours, or kWh, depending on the vehicle. Saxton said they can travel up to 100 miles between charges.
The company has converted the hydraulic lift on the truck to operated off of battery power. That allows the truck to move three to four times more containers than a semi-tractor, Saxton said.
Nolan said he plans to expand his fleet of terminal trucks based on fuel savings, maintenance costs and financial incentives being offered by “going green.”
The maintenance on the electric trucks is low because they don’t have an engine or transmission, Saxton said, which are costly expenses for trucking companies with semi-tractors with diesel engines.
His biggest client “is interested in expanding this nationwide to having 50 of these trucks from here to California,” Nolan told Trucks.com.
The price of Orange EV’s electric truck ranges from $244,950 to $284,950 for a new vehicle and $199,950 to $239,950 for a re-manufactured variant using recycled cabs and frames from older trucks. Customers also have to provide a used truck for the re-manufactured build. All manufacturing takes place at Orange EV’s plant in Riverside, Mo. Orange EV has built and sold around 25 new and used terminal trucks since opening its doors in 2014.
After government subsidies, Nolan said he is paying $50,000 to $90,000 per truck, depending on its electric range and how it is equipped.
There is a growing industry devoted to electric and hybrid-electric commercial vehicles following stricter greenhouse gas standards issued by federal regulators earlier this year that will phase in stricter carbon emissions limits from commercial trucks, buses and cargo vans through 2027.
Much of this is driven by California’s tougher-than-federal air quality regulations and efforts by other states to reduce diesel vehicle emissions.
In July, the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, issued its final draft of the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a blueprint for reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions created by the state’s freight transport system. It calls for the deployment of more than 100,000 trucks and other freight transporting equipment capable of zero-emission operation by 2030.
Last week, Chinese-backed electric vehicle developer BYD America launched the industry’s first all-electric, long-range electric garbage truck, a project jointly developed with Wayne Engineering, the Iowa-based refuse industry equipment maker.
Earlier this month, The Ratto Group, a Sonoma County solid waste collection and recycling business, put into service the first of at least 15 range-extended electric garbage trucks that will be integrated into the trash company’s fleet over the next year. These are modified heavy-duty Class 8 Freightliner trucks retrofitted by Wrightspeed Inc., an Alameda, Calif.-based green transport company.
In 2016, FedEx added 1,176 electric vehicles to its global fleet. In the same year, the shipping giant only added a combined 706 alternative fuel-powered vehicles to its fleet, including hybrid, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane and hydrogen.
Daimler, Mack, Tesla and the fledging Nikola Motors all are developing or producing various forms of electric trucks.
California’s stringent environmental regulations coupled with financial incentives for green trucks prompted Orange EV to make sure its terminal trucks meet the state’s tough emissions standards, Saxton said.
“If you can make it in California, you can make it anywhere,” Saxton said. “Other regulatory agencies tend to accept California’s approval as their own.”
Other states have made similar moves, with subsidies as high as $150,000 per truck in New York and Texas, and in 16 counties in the Chicago area.
Customers purchasing Orange EV trucks can save between $30,000 and $60,000 in fuel and maintenance costs annually in moderate to heavy use applications, Saxton said.
Nolan said he has found that the T-Series terminal trucks can run as much as 12 hours before needing a charge. Trucks equipped with a larger battery pack can run as much as 24 hours on a single charge.
Charging the electric truck is less expensive than fueling a diesel terminal truck based on a comparison of diesel and electricity prices.
“The cost per day to charge a T-Series truck ranges between $3 to $11 compared to $20 to about $70 for a diesel truck in typical roles,” Saxton said.
Battery electric vehicle technology makes sense for the type of yard and drayage trucks the company plans to produce, said David Reichmuth, senior vehicles engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Those types of trucks generally drive a fixed set of miles every day,” Reichmuth told Trucks.com. “You know exactly what the need is.”
Moreover, greater use of electric drayage trucks reduce harmful diesel emissions in the nearby communities, Reichmuth said.
“Cleaning up the ports is important for both emissions and health reasons,” he said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to make the following corrections. An earlier version said that the Orange EV trucks have lithium ion battery packs of 80 or 160 kilowatts. The battery packs are 80 to 160 kilowatt hours, or kWh. The story listed Orange EV's pricing at $240,000 for a new truck and $200,000 for a re-manufactured truck. The correct price ranges from $244,950 to $284,950 for a new truck and $199,950 to $239,950 for a re-manufactured truck.