Figuring out how much a battery-powered electric truck will be worth after years of driving is a mystery for the equipment-leasing industry that accurately projects the value of used diesel trucks.
“The entire electric market is a brand new one,” said Jake Jacoby, chief executive of the Truck Renting and Leasing Association.
The leasing industry has years of data to guide it to the residual value of traditional trucks. It knows trade cycles, average mileage and what features used-truck buyers want most.
No such information exists for electric trucks, which have two values – their high-tech battery packs and the trucks themselves.
Truck makers built about 200 electric trucks in 2018, according to Andrej Divis, an analyst with IHS Markit.
“Everybody’s going to buy a few trucks and run them for a few years. Then you’re going to have the potential for something more to happen,” Divis said. “If you really want this to break out, the fleet manager is going to want to know the residual value.”
Daimler Truck Financial has arranged two-year leases for about 50 Mitsubishi FUSO eCanter medium-duty electric trucks. Customers include Penske Truck Leasing Co., J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and the University of California, Irvine.
“We came up with a fair-market value,” said Tobias Waldeck, a Daimler Truck Financial vice president. “Nobody knows what the future value of these vehicles is going to be.”
Today’s leases are test models, like the trucks themselves. Daimler keeps the eCanters at the end of the leases. Engineers will analyze how they performed. Customers avoid taking a financial hit, Waldeck said.
Waldeck declined to disclose the eCanter lease price. Daimler AG, which owns the Freightliner and Western Star brands, controls 89 percent of the Japanese truck maker.
In theory, the lease terms for electric trucks could be longer because of the construction of the vehicles themselves, Jacoby said. Most electric vehicles come with an eight-year warranty on the battery pack.
Up to 70 percent of the energy in the battery pack remains after its use in a vehicle. Utilities have the expertise to find uses for the remaining energy. Duke Power, for example, has an agreement with electric van maker Workhorse Group that could lead to separate battery leases for customers of its trucks.
“When a newer, more technologically advanced battery is developed, the old one could be replaced, and the rest of the truck could remain out on a lease,” said Jacoby of the Truck Renting and Leasing Association. “It is very difficult to determine residual values with the technology changing so rapidly.”
Recycling of batteries from cars, buses and other sources is projected to grow to a $2.27 billion industry by 2025, a combined annual growth rate of 41.8 percent between 2018 and 2025, according to Allied Market Research.
Financial incentives are part of the picture for electric truck leasing, said Bill Van Amburg, executive vice president of Calstart, a nonprofit clean energy advocacy group.
“Some will be vehicle purchases with the leasing of batteries,” he told Trucks.com. “Some will move to transport as a service, where a monthly fee pays for truck, battery lease, fuel and (charging) infrastructure.”
Calstart and the California Air Resources Board have approved $65 million in vouchers that lower the cost of buying or leasing electric trucks and other zero-emission vehicles. Calstart also has incentive programs in Chicago and New York.
CARB recently funded the conversion by XL Fleet Electrification of 154 GMC Savana vans to run on gasoline and electricity. They will be used by the California Vanpool Authority to transport seasonal agricultural workers.
Daimler Truck Financial, an early mover in medium-duty electric truck leasing, wants to take advantage of the incentives.
“We’ve been in touch with Calstart and CARB and we’re getting more familiar with their programs and requirements,” Waldeck said. “We’re working to incorporate those.”