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May 2, 2018 Vol. 15 No. 9

Three cheers for NACFE. Last night the North American Council for Freight Efficiency released its first ‘Guidance Report’ — entitled ‘Electric Trucks Where They Make Sense’. It represents a much deeper dive into this technology than the sort of thing we’ve seen in the organization’s ‘Confidence Reports’, of which we’ve had 16 so far on subjects ranging from trailer aerodynamics to idle-reduction tools.

In fact, the new 117-page report has a price tag, a NACFE first. It will cost you US$1500. You can access it and the free-of-charge executive summary here.

“The purpose of this Guidance Report… is to bring some clarity and insights into the complex topic of the viability of commercial battery electric vehicles,” says Mike Roeth, executive director of NACFE.

This really is difficult territory and, as the report notes, the net costs/benefits of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) require more effort than traditional ROI calculations.

“Multiple factors need to be included,” the report says, “from the straightforward such as grants, incentives and taxes, to hard-to-dollar-quantify items such as emissions credits, brand image, liability costs, disposal costs, indirect costs, driver/technician retention or attraction, potential customers, and other opportunity costs/benefits buried in overhead or ignored in traditional ROI calculations.”

“Battery electric vehicles for commercial applications are here today but there are arguments for and against further development in that market. Arguments center on weight, technology, cost, and charging/electric grid issues,” says Bill Brentar, senior director of maintenance and engineering, UPS Corporate Automotive Engineering, in commenting on the NACFE effort.

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to