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Electric Truck Mandates “Disconnected from Reality,” ATA Blog Post Says


Category: Transportation and Logistics


Technology, Infrastructure and Cost Barriers are High, ATA Argues

May 30, 2024

Around the time of an analysis in early May from 3PL Ryder that found high costs in switching to a battery electric fleet (see Ryder Study Sees High Costs from Converting to Electric Trucks), an American Trucking Associations blog post says EV mandates for the trucking industry are “disconnected from reality.”

Supply Chain Digest Says...


Operational issues also loom large, the ATA says, noting 77% of U.S. trucks travel 250 miles or more daily, yet current BEV truck technology has a usable trip range of only 150-250 miles.

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The ATA is not, it says, opposed to battery-electric vehicles (BEV).

However, as some fleets are testing BEVs, “the initial results are mixed at best.”

It adds that “What's abundantly clear from early adopters of this technology is that the hurdles to widescale adoption are so massive and undeniable that target and timelines mandated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) can be described as nothing more than utterly disconnected from reality.”

The blog linked to a video of a fleet manager for carrier PITT OHIO, an early-adopter of BEV trucks, testifying on Capitol Hill to explain the real-world challenges of commercial vehicle electrification to members of Congress.

He cited major obstacles to BEVs in three areas: technology, infrastructure and cost. See the video testimony here.

What the ATA does oppose, the blog says, “are one-size-fits-all mandates that impose singular technologies onto an extremely varied industry like trucking while ruling out alternative fuel sources that offer greater environmental, operational, and financial benefits.”

The blog likens to situation to a toolbox that contains a diverse set of tools, each designed for specific tasks.

“The trucking industry needs a range of technologies tailored to different operational needs. Hammers are great at driving nails, but it's not advisable to build a house with just a hammer,” the blog says, adding that “BEV trucks might work well in specific trucking operations, such as urban delivery and school buses - but you cannot move the entire US economy on battery-electric alone.”


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The blog points out that EPA's new Greenhouse Gas Phase 3 regulation classifies BEV trucks as "zero-emission," but that's only because regulators looked solely at tailpipe emissions and excluded the full life-cycle carbon footprint of battery-electric and other alternatives.

“It's no longer a secret that battery-electric trucks are not truly zero-emission vehicles, as the sourcing of rare minerals, the production of lithium-ion batteries, and the electricity generation and transmission required to power them generate significant carbon emissions,” the blog notes.

The blog argues that replacing a petroleum diesel truck with battery-electric reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint by about 30%. However, substituting renewable diesel in place of petroleum provides a far greater carbon reduction of nearly 70%, according to a recent report from the American Transportation Research Institute. (See ATRI Report Bullish on Use of Renewable Diesel in Trucking.)

The blog states that “One would think mandating the total overhaul of an essential industry that underpins the entire US economy would deserve, at minimum, a simple cost/benefit analysis before making decisions of such seismic proportions, adding that it stands to reason that the best approach to decarbonization would provide the greatest environmental benefit at the lowest possible cost. EV mandates do neither while unleashing inflationary consequences that will be felt for decades to come.”

The blog cites estimates that full electrification of the US trucking fleet, which California is trying to spearhead by 2036 with its own electric-truck mandate, would cost more than $1 trillion in infrastructure investment alone.

That include upcharge cost of the vehicles themselves. Battery-electric trucks range from 2-3x as expensive as a comparable eco-diesel truck.

Operational issues also loom large, the ATA says, noting 77% of U.S. trucks travel 250 miles or more daily, yet current BEV truck technology has a usable trip range of only 150-250 miles.

Concluding, the ATA cites continued progress in truckers reducing CO2, and strongly saying that the “EPA and CARB's dogmatic hyper-fixation on BEVs as the only technology solution is simply bad environmental and economic policy


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