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Fleets Experience Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Tech at Recent ACT Fleet Forum Event

February 16, 2023

Source: ACT News

How do you plan to scale not just one, but two separate zero-emission technologies for heavy-duty fleets? This past January, 50 of the largest early adopter fleets of clean technologies participated in a workshop to share best practices and hear from zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure providers on this question.

The Scaling Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleets workshop, organized by TRC (formerly GNA) and hosted by Nikola Motors as part of the ACT Fleet Forum, included two days of discussions on lessons learned and hands-on technology tours. Fleet executives learned about the state of hydrogen infrastructure, heard lessons from the first heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle pilots, discussed the roadmap and outlook for a zero-emission future, and talked through how to plan for scaling zero-emission vehicles.

For successful heavy-duty battery-electric or fuel-cell electric vehicle pilots and projects, the participants identified the following steps and best practices:

  • Start planning for infrastructure early. For electric vehicles, determine electrical capacity and additional needs, then engage with your utility as far in advance as possible.
  • Identify the charging/fueling capabilities, standards, and capacities of each of the vehicles your fleet is considering.
  • Identify compatible charging/fueling options and partners working closely with vehicle OEMs.
  • Select a fixed set of your best drivers for the duration of the pilot to ensure driving best practices are being adhered to and you receive comparative feedback.
  • Test the vehicles in a variety of speeds, loads, and traffic conditions.
  • Measure results including fuel economy, range, charging/fueling time, and driver feedback on safety, performance, design, etc.
  • Form a team and meet regularly with all project partners: OEM, infrastructure provider, utility, facility managers, operations team, software/telematics providers, etc.

The workshop also included a tour of Nikola’s Coolidge, Arizona, manufacturing plant where battery-electric tractors are currently rolling off the line and fuel cell electric tractors will be produced starting Q3 2023. Fleets had the opportunity to ride in the cab of the commercially available battery-electric tractors and the prototype of the fuel-cell electric tractor on Nikola’s world-class test track at speeds up to 70 mph with an 80,000-pound load. The vehicles are quiet and accelerate far faster than a diesel tractor.

The host, Nikola, is a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty commercial battery-electric vehicles, fuel-cell electric vehicles, and energy solutions. Technology experts from Tritium, a DC-fast charging developer, Black and Veatch and Technip Energies, construction and engineering firms specializing in heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle projects, APS, Arizona’s largest investor-owned utility, and Chart Industries, a global leader in hydrogen components provided education on their areas of expertise. TRC, the nation’s leading clean transportation and energy consultants, facilitated the event and provided an update on policy and funding.

The ACT Fleet Forum is a fleet-only peer network for the industry’s elite decision makers to share best practice, see new products, and learn about new technologies. Each year, participating fleets meet during 2-3 hands-on workshops with representatives across the technology ecosystem that is required to deploy these technologies. It is an unprecedented opportunity for the earliest adopters and experts in charging, hydrogen production, fuel-cell and battery-electric vehicles, funding, and policy to understand the moving pieces for successful adoption of zero-emission technologies.

The ACT Fleet Forum is planning more workshops in 2023 on transitioning facilities to near-zero with CNG and battery-electric vehicles, as well as on managing a portfolio of near-zero and zero-emission and hybrid heavy-duty technologies. Early adopter fleets who are interested in exploring membership to learn best practice with other leaders can contact Nate Springer.

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