No silver bullet solution

by Truck West

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Kary Schaefer was “green with innovation” during her keynote address at the Green Truck Summit, saying to be green means more uptime for carriers.

Kicking off the annual event in Indianapolis, Ind., Schaefer, general manager of marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), underscored three key areas where investments into green technologies would benefit fleets with better efficiencies and total cost of ownership.

The first, active safety systems, have been shown to significantly reduce collisions by reducing incidents of lane departure, rear-ends, rollovers, and traveling at unsafe speeds.

Schaefer said all this equates to trucks being on the road more often and not being put off-duty due to a collision.

Using a particular carrier as an example, Schaefer said prior to the use of safety mitigation technology, the company was seeing one in four of its trucks involved in a collision. Following adaptation, that number dropped to one in 19, saving the company repairs costs, increasing uptime, and keeping drivers and the public safer.

Future collision mitigation technologies Schaefer said would be hitting the marketplace soon include pedestrian avoidance, camera functionality, lane departure that keeps the vehicle centered in the lane, and side guard assist that can detect objects and notify drivers.

Investment into connectivity was another area where carriers can see benefits.

“It really is just a means to end,” said Schaefer, “and the end is the collection of data.”

The collection of “big data” can be a powerful tool if utilized properly. It can be used to help coach drivers on the most efficient driving practices, and can be used to predict failures and faults before they occur.

Schaefer said the collection of big data and connectivity is most often ascribed to highway trucks, but that it’s more important for vocational vehicles, as it can help maintain uptime.

Kary Schaefer.

The final area of investment Schaefer highlighted for carriers segued into what the overall theme of the Green Truck Summit is all about – propulsion technology, liquid fuels and electric energy.

Schaefer said there is a lot buzz around the industry over battery-powered vehicles, and that has spurred a lot of activity with truck manufacturers.

DTNA has offered several fully-electric trucks – eCanter, Urban eActros, Vision One, and HD eActros Gen II – ranging from Class 4 to 8.

The company also owns a battery company, Accumotive, in an effort to improve technology and supply to its own future trucks and passenger vehicles.

Schaefer said one of the reasons DTNA is investing in this effort is because they are seeing significant pressure from regions around the world and U.S. states to reduce emissions.

“We think it’s going to be here to stay,” Schaefer said.

But several challenges remain with electric-powered vehicles, such as fluctuating costs of electricity, vehicle range, weight, cost, and charging time.

A lot of energy is required to charge electric vehicles, which Schaefer said can put a lot of pressure on the grid and be a large added cost to companies looking to invest in charging stations.

On liquefied forms of energy, Schaefer said natural gas has come a long way. It is commercially proven, readily available, and adds to noise abatement. However, cost remains a hurdle with diesel low and many companies not investing into natural gas for that reason.

Diesel also has the highest energy density at 100%, with li-ion batteries the lowest at 3.6%.

Every energy option does have its place in the marketplace, as Schaefer pointed out, but “the bottom line is that there is no silver bullet solution to all the problems.”

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  • Take away the tax payer money and this battery powered push dies. Let it on the market as the technology evolves on its own without tax payer money pushing it along. This green scam is killing the north amerian economic engine. From vehicle reg’s to work place, factorys, and private land owner reg’s its gobbling individual wealth that would normally be re invested in economic endeavors that make sense. New business ventures, expanding current business and so on. Instead it gets milked off the top by esentially 3rd party arms of the respective governments.