DoE & Execs at Green Truck Summit & Work Truck Show
The term “green fleet” will become just “fleet” over the next decade as sustainability becomes business as usual. “Sustainability and the green industry are here to stay,” says Lee Styslinger III, chairman and CEO of aerial lift specialist Altec.
As the keynote speaker at the Green Truck Summit’s opening session in Indianapolis, preceding the big Work Truck Show, Styslinger said there is now real momentum in green business. It’s not just the right thing to do, but it flows to the bottom line: “We view sustainability as a value proposition,” he said.
That theme was echoed throughout the conference. The commercial vehicle industry is moving ahead with cleaner vehicles, and with operators making money out of them, said John Boesel, president and CEO of Calstart.
That’s indeed so, added Doyle Sumrall, senior director of business development with NTEA, the Work Truck Show organizer. More emphasis is being given now to using analysis, tools and models to understand the paybacks on clean vehicles, and to show the benefits that flow to the bottom line.
Freightliner Talks Payback
Bob Carrick, natural gas vocational sales manager for Freightliner Trucks, gave an example: an operator with a ten-year horizon buying a CNG truck could, if he drives long enough distances, see a payback in just one and a half to three years at a CNG price of $2.00 to 2.50 a gallon. “That is huge,” he said.
Boesel said that Hino Trucks’ introduction of its 195h diesel-electric hybrid is another example of benefits flowing to the bottom line. “Operators are seeing a two-year or less payback with the incentives available,” he said, adding that he expects it to achieve a similar payback in the future even without incentives.
Even electric trucks have workable economics: analysis by Calstart shows there is a sweet spot for electric vehicles, with a 5-year payback when driven 65 miles a day.
State by State
“We’re not looking to Washington” to underwrite growth of alternative-fueled commercial vehicles Boesel said. Instead, Calstart is focusing on the states.
There are different solutions for different regions, and Calstart is helping states plan incentive programs to spur growth in their own regions.
“We are making major efforts with the states,” Boesel said. In California, which has an existing $20 million clean truck and bus incentive fund, Calstart is encouraging extending the program until 2023. New York is close to launching a $20 million program, Illinois (especially Chicago) is looking at incentives for electric commercial vehicles, and Mississippi is looking at a tax credit for gaseous-fuel vehicles of 50% of the purchase price.
Vouchers Work Best
Calstart is pressing for incentives to be awarded as vouchers at the time of purchase instead of tax credits, simplifying the process and effectively reducing the purchase price of a vehicle when an operator buys it.
Green Truck Summit keynoter and Altec chief Styslinger made the rounds of the Work Truck Show with Pat Davis, manager of the Vehicle Technologies in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, and Ron Schoon, executive manager for partnership development with DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
NTEA government activities director Mike Kastner was among the tour guides.
A Visit with Altec
The party stopped by Altec’s stand, where product manager Mark Greer explained green initiatives including Altec’s JEMS (for jobsite energy management system) aerial lift, which operates on battery power. The lifts reduce engine idling, which saves fuel and reduces emissions while making for a quieter, more congenial and safer work site.
Alabama-based Altec last year opened a 42,000-square-foot assembly facility in Dixon, Calif. at the behest of the Pacific Gas & Electric utility, a key customer (F&F, April 12, 2012). PG&E said just last month that it will add 127 bucket trucks with battery-powered Altec aerial lifts during 2013, augmenting 320 in service.
Odyne with Allison and JCI
“By 2017, the utility plans to have over 700 e-WIMS trucks in its fleet,” said PG&E transportation services director Dave Meisel.
The Altec JEMS reduces idling and provides engine-off power for tools, but doesn’t affect how a truck drives. “We focus on both,” said Odyne president Joe Dalum, who described his company’s plug-in hybrid electric drivelines for trucks.
Odyne uses equipment from Allison (which Dalum said invested in Odyne this past June; F&F, July 3) and lithium batteries from Johnson Controls. A 28-kilowatt-hour battery pack can put out 10 kilowatts or even 14 kilowatts of export electricity, Dalum said, enough to power compressors for jackhammers.
‘You Can Remove an Engine’
The power takeoff feature is powerful enough that truck outfitters can eliminate a conventional generator entirely. “You can remove an engine and all the maintenance associated with it by using this battery system,” Dalum said.
Odyne systems are available for both new vehicles and retrofit.
On to the big Freightliner-Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp display, where Daimler Trucks North America president Richard Saward told the DoE officials, “No matter what the application, we think natural gas has a fit.” Among the vehicles shown for the first time was a dedicated-CNG Freightliner M2 112 outfitted with a Johnston sweeper body. Timco and Elgin use the chassis for sweepers too, Freightliner’s Bob Carrick told F&F.
The DoE party got a preview of Ford’s announcement of new Transit cab and cutaway vehicles, all to have alternative fuel capability.
‘Becoming Very Deployable’
“We’ve got eight different vehicle platforms that we can modify,” said Ford alternative fuels strategist Jon Coleman. “It doesn’t matter what alternative fuel the customer is interested in,” he said. “We have a van for him.”
GM alternate energy sales director Mark Karney explained about GM’s dedicated-CNG vans and CNG-gasoline bi-fuel pickups, for which a new body style will be available in the coming weeks. Knapheide VP Chris Weiss explained how his firm saves weight by using advanced materials and better overall designs – with alternative fuels as an upfit option too.
Last but not least, NTEA executive director Steve Carey summed up the state of alternative fuel vehicles in March 2013: fleet managers are asking real ROI questions about AFVs, he said. And the vehicles themselves? “They’re becoming very deployable.”
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Source: Fleets & Fuels at the Work Truck Show