AltFuel: Commercial EV Outlook for 2023
Between mounting clean-air regulation and a genuine desire for ecological sustainability, the demand for vehicles using alternative fuels (alt-fuel) has never been greater. It’s more than a trend; the drive to create cleaner transportation systems is here to stay. So, what does that mean for businesses that buy, sell, and use commercial vehicles?
While there are many potential options for alternative fuels in this market, two of the most readily available and viable alternatives for 2023 include propane internal combustion engines (ICE) and battery electric vehicles (BEV). Naturally, each option has unique pros and cons, depending on the job type for which it is used. Let’s look at what’s in store for BEV commercial vehicles in 2023.
Reports from Mordor Intelligence and Wood MacKenzie indicate that the outlook for BEV commercial vehicles in 2023 is positive. The commercial electric vehicle market is expected to increase, with a projected CAGR of 25.10% during the forecast period, and reach a value of USD 258.78 billion.
The outlook for commercial BEVs in the United States is quite promising, but one of the most common issues with adoption is the availability of charging stations.
“Many truck drivers are BEV fans, but some say they’ve driven them before and haven’t had very good luck with them,” says Gary Schmidt, Senior Vice President of Sales at Motive Power Systems. “But when you ask a few more questions about why, most of those issues tend to go back to infrastructure and are not necessarily vehicle-related.”
In response to this known pain point, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest $7.5 billion in EV charging, which will help fund a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030. Additionally, several states have set ambitious targets for EV adoption and have implemented policies encouraging investment in charging infrastructure. For example, California has set a goal of having 5 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2030. It has allocated $1.7 billion to support the deployment of medium and heavy-duty charging infrastructure.
Private companies are also investing heavily in EV charging infrastructure in the US. For instance, ChargePoint, one of the largest EV charging networks in the US, has announced plans to install 2.5 million charging stations by 2025, and EVgo plans to have 2,000 charging stalls at Pilot and Flying J locations across the U.S.
The AFDC Station Locator tool helps fleets and private users identify nearby public and private fueling stations.
Whether for a fleet or a single truck, transitioning to BEVs is a complex move. Dealerships are in a prime position for their own transition from work truck vendor to business partner.
“Making the BEV sale is not just as easy as pulling an inventory sheet and selling that vehicle,” explains Schmidt. “If you sell them that vehicle and they’re not prepared to utilize it, that’s probably the last vehicle you’ll sell to them. Much of a dealer’s job, especially in a pre-sale situation, is transferring knowledge and making sure their customer is prepared. Dealers need to ask the right questions, and if they don’t have solid solutions, be prepared with partner networks within infrastructure, etc.”
The transition to electric trucks presents both opportunities and operational challenges. One challenge is the upfront cost of purchasing electric trucks, which can be higher than diesel trucks. However, a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that, under certain conditions, battery electric or fuel cell commercial trucks can provide a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than traditional diesel-fueled trucks under certain conditions.
Another challenge is the limited range of electric trucks, which can be a concern for long-haul operations. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency provides an overview of commercial battery electric vehicles and their viability as an alternative to diesel vehicles, including use cases where they are best implemented.
So, while BEVs have a positive outlook, it’s apparent that incorporating them into daily business operations still presents some challenges. However, with the right knowledge, preparation, and partner networks, dealerships can help their customers successfully make the switch to cleaner, more sustainable transportation systems when they’re ready.