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Supply Chain News: Wall Street Journal Attacks California eTruck Rules


Consumers will Ultimately Bear the Huge Cost, as Small Carriers will also be in Trouble

Sept. 5, 2023

In April, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a series of mandates for truckers of various types to electrify their fleets.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


“Drivers will have no choice but charge their trucks at night, though this is when many prefer to drive because there’s less traffic,” the Journal notes, adding “That means more trucks will be on the road during the day

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For example, starting next year, drayage carriers, which move shipping containers to and from ports and warehouses, would be prohibited from registering new diesel trucks.

By 2035, nearly all package delivery, drayage and box trucks would have to be “zero emission.”
To understand the scope of that challenge, only 272 electric trucks were registered in California as of 2022. Under CARB’s new mandates, some 510,000 trucks would have to be zero emission in just over a decade.

The Wall Street Journal took a look at the issue in an editorial last week, and doesn’t like what it sees.
“Here is a classic example of regulating first and thinking later,” the editorial says.

Start with the costs of this for truckers. The Journal notes that electric heavy-duty trucks are about three times more expensive than new diesel big rigs. The incentives (tax credits) in the Inflation Reduction Act will offset only $40,000 of the $400,000 to $500,000 in additional costs.

Then there are the huge cost associated with installing chargers that can be millions of dollars, and which requires coordination with charging-equipment makers and local utilities.

“Trucks suck up loads of power, which can destabilize the electric grid. Charging a small trucking fleet can require three times more power than a factory and about as much juice as a shopping mall or sports stadium,” the Journal says.

The Journal cites the example of one trucking company that wanted to install charging stations for 30 trucks at a terminal in Joliet, Illinois, only to be told by local officials they would draw more power than the entire city. In January, northern California utility PG&E told a charging provider that one of its large fleet customers couldn’t charge its trucks on summer afternoons owing to a power crunch.


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The Journal also points to a Southern California Edison executive who recently said some fleets are powering chargers using diesel generators so electric trucks don’t go unused.

“It gets more ridiculous,” the Journal says. It notes that as of last month, there were fewer than 700 chargers at trucking depots in the state, yet California’s energy commission estimates 157,000 more will be needed for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2030. This would require more than 450 to be constructed each week, while grid upgrades to install chargers could take five to 10 years at minimum.

Then there’s the weight problem, the Journal says. Electric trucks run on two batteries that each weigh about 8,000 pounds. Since trucks must comply with strict federal weight limits, they won’t be able to carry as large a load as diesel big rigs.
So while PepsiCo is deploying Tesla’s electric semi-truck this year to deliver the lightweight Frito-Lay products, but the trucks can’t go as far delivering soda.

The Journal says batteries can power trucks for about 150 to 330 miles between charging, which can take as long five to eight hours. SCDigest will note some e-truck OEMs are promising much faster charging cycles. Longer battery ranges require bigger and heavier batteries, which add more weight and reduce payload. That means more trucks and drivers will be needed, which will increase shipping costs.

“Drivers will have no choice but charge their trucks at night, though this is when many prefer to drive because there’s less traffic,” the Journal notes, adding “That means more trucks will be on the road during the day, causing more congestion during work-time commutes.”

Among the losers from all this, the Journal says, will be independent contract drivers who won’t be able to afford electric trucks. Some or even many may retire or leave the state. This could cause big increases in total cycle time due to a driver shortage.
What’s more, the Journal says, shippers will invariably pass on their electric-truck costs to customers around the country.
So Americans anywhere will have to pay more for whatever travels to their markets by truck.

Congress could step in but almost surely won’t, the Journal says.

Any thoughts on the Journal's analysis? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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