ILMA Compoundings - November/December 2020 - 25

that improved diesel efficiency and the
low cost of diesel fuel affect the total
cost of ownership and the return on
investment (ROI).
Right now, little is known about the
resale value of electric trucks, which
could alter fleets' purchasing decisions.

Increased Competition
EVs are competing with a wide range
of alternative fuel options, which
may affect adoption rates. Roeth said
natural gas could reemerge as a choice
for fleets. He said hydrogen fuel cells
and electric hybrids might also gain
traction. " We have Cummins and
Hyliion and others saying batteries
are great, but they can't go the long
distances, so let's do the battery and
the engine, " he said.
One challenge of having multiple
options is that fleets worry about
making a mistake. " You get paralyzed
and don't do anything, " Roeth said.
Neandross said that medium- and
heavy-duty natural gas vehicles
(NGVs) have achieved technological
and commercial maturity. Fleets
leading the adoption of heavy-duty
NGVs report seeing low total cost of
ownership through fuel cost-savings
and reduced maintenance, while
simultaneously achieving steep emission reductions.
Today, there are approximately 90
models of Class 2 through Class 8
compressed NGVs, Neandross said.
Additionally, commercial NGV sales
grew 19% from 2017 to 2018 and
another 13% in 2019, which set a
record with more than 6,000 units sold.
About 85% of the 53,000 registered
NGVs in America today are in heavyduty applications, specifically goods
movement, refuse and public transit.
Medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell
EVs are of interest to fleets and could
compete with EV technology. According to The State of Sustainable Fleets,
the number of fuel cell EV products

for medium- and heavy-duty fleets is
expected to more than double over
the next two years. However, there
are fewer than 50 public hydrogen
stations across the nation, and almost
all existing stations are in California
and designed to fuel light-duty fuel
cell EVs.
Daimler Trucks, which has released
EV technology, has announced its
plans to begin customer trials of the
hydrogen fuel cell GenH2 Truck in
2023. The trucks have a range of 621
miles on a single tank and will use
liquid hydrogen, which has a higher
energy density than gaseous hydrogen.
The vehicle's performance is intended
to equal that of a comparable conventional diesel truck.
" Our customers make rational
purchasing decisions and are unwilling
to compromise on their trucks' suitability for everyday use, tonnage and
range, " Daimler Truck AG Chairman
Martin Daum said in a news release.
" With our alternative drive concepts
from Mercedes-Benz - the GenH2
Truck, the eActros LongHaul and the
eActros - and our electric trucks of
the Freightliner and Fuso brands, we
have a clear focus on customer requirements and are creating genuine locally
carbon-neutral alternatives for them. "
If fleets invest in alternative fuel
technology, such as CNG, and build
infrastructure and train drivers, they
might be less likely to switch to EVs
when technology becomes available
because they've already tied up capital.
" The solution is to understand your
business well, understand all of the
options out there, act on them but
don't put something in place you'll
regret when the electric truck option
is there, " Roeth said, adding that
there will be a " messy middle " as fleets
transition to alternative technologies
from diesel fuel.
Cade said Ruan operates 125
CNG-powered vehicles and has
several planned projects to implement

electric yard trucks later this year. " We
continue to find ways to push the
technology and meet our customers'
demands for sustainability, " he said.
Carlton Rose, president of global
fleet maintenance and engineering
at UPS, said the fleet wants options.
" Good is good until better comes
along, " he said. " In everything we do,
we try to make it a reasonable effort to
integrate sustainable solutions. "
However, Rose said costs are a
concern. " We need technology that
we can purchase after the subsidies are
gone, " he said.

A Slow Transition
Even with fleets embracing new
technologies, the transition away
from diesel will take time, Roeth said.
" The life of a truck is 10 to 12 years, "
he said. " If you keep the vehicle the
whole 10- to 12-year life, and you
started buying all-electric trucks next
year, it would still take you 10 to 12
years to turn it over. Most fleets aren't
going to go 100% the first year. "
Tarbet said that while increased EV
adoption will change the lubricants
needed, the transition will be slow.
" People in the lubricant world need
to understand how many vehicles are
in use and their life cycle, " she said.
" Lubricant requirements in the aftermarket will decline very slowly over a
number of years. "
In a hypothetical example, if by the
year 2030, 32% of 524,000 mediumand heavy-duty vehicles produced
were electric or hybrid, the amount
of engine oil required would decrease
by approximately 433,000 gallons, or
about 11%. " Usage will decline, but
it will be a slow decline, " Tarbet said,
adding that the life cycle of vehicles
means a transition will be slow.
Long is a freelance writer and journalist.
She can be reached at 925-750-7163 or
mindy@mindylong.com.

25



ILMA Compoundings - November/December 2020

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ILMA Compoundings - November/December 2020 - 1
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