Electric vehicles have gone commercial, as many companies are introducing new green trucks and vans. The success of these vehicles hinges on the continued advancement of E.V. technology, and things are trending in the right direction.
Let’s discuss five exciting developments that could take green truck fleets to the next level.
Skip to What You Need
- 1 5 Exciting Developments in EV Technology for Green Truck Fleets
- 2 Manufacturers & Startups to Look Out For in E.V. Technology
- 3 Green Truck Fleets Are Growing
- 4 About the Author
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 References and Useful Resources
5 Exciting Developments in EV Technology for Green Truck Fleets
1. Stronger Batteries
Stronger batteries have been the biggest advancements in green truck fleets. Car companies and battery manufacturers are working together to develop new E.V. battery technologies, such as battery separators.
Separators enable a safer transfer of ions by cutting the connection between the battery’s anodes and cathodes. This function makes the battery less susceptible to overheating. It’s compatible with all kinds of lithium-ion battery cells:
- Lithium-iron phosphate
Another advancement with unlimited potential is internal thermal modulation. This technology also controls the battery’s temperature and allows for more efficient charging. It utilizes a thin nickel foil next to the anode, cathode, and electrolyte, regulating the battery’s temperature and cutting the charging time down to just 10 minutes.
Fast charging was available in a limited fashion before, but it was a double-edged sword. If you wanted to fast charge an E.V., you would have to overload it with power. As a result, it would slowly deteriorate the battery’s range and reliability. A new thermal modulation technology could eliminate this dilemma and make fast charging a win-win.
One of the main obstacles preventing widespread green truck fleet adoption is poor charging infrastructure. There aren’t enough charging stations to power thousands of electric trucks every day. Battery separators and thermal modulation would streamline the charging process and reduce the need for so many stations.
Another problem with current E.V. batteries is their vulnerability to the elements. Their performance can vary widely based on weather conditions. Batteries with self-regulating features can adjust to the outside temperatures and ensure the range stays consistent. Fleet monitoring and maintenance would become much easier with these new technologies.
2. Tracking Software
Tracking each vehicle’s activity is a crucial part of a commercial fleet’s success. The latest green truck fleets have advanced tracking software that can monitor more than 200 trucks at once. NVG Global Group, an international organization and parent company of many E.V. service businesses, has led the way in developing new tracking systems.
NVG Global’s latest software has many impressive capabilities. It can track the vehicle’s exact location, speed, braking patterns, and proximity to other vehicles. These insights enable the fleet management team to provide relevant, individualized feedback to each driver. When used to its full potential, it improves the fleet’s efficiency, safety, and sustainability in one fell swoop.
Advanced tracking also enables businesses to plan the most optimal routes so drivers can avoid traffic. Route optimization leads to lower fuel costs, happy employees, and even happier customers.
This new tracking technology is also compatible with traditional internal combustion vehicles. While the world slowly transitions to E.V.s, we can use the data gathered from tracking software to limit the carbon emissions from our ICVs. Although the end goal is to create a world of all-electric vehicles, ICVs will still play a big role for years to come.
3. Safety Features
Green truck fleets have never been safer, thanks to a handful of major improvements. General Motors has been adding lots of new safety features to its E.V.s:
- High rear-camera resolution
- Forward collision alerts
- Automatic emergency braking
- Trailer blind-spot alerts
- Lane-departure warnings
Many ICVs have these features, but we haven’t seen them in commercial electric fleets until now. The camera resolution and blind-spot alerts are especially important. Towing heavy equipment is a challenging part of driving commercial trucks. With higher camera resolutions and alerts from all sides, the trucks are less likely to collide with another vehicle or hit a pedestrian.
4. A.I. Integration
Electric vehicles get most of the attention in the automobile industry. However, we can’t forget about the massive potential of self-driving technology. Artificial intelligence is the key to making this technology work. Some green truck fleets already have some autonomous features controlled by A.I., such as cruise control and automatic braking.
A.I. has also played an increasingly large role in these aspects of green truck fleet development:
- Battery manufacturing: Machine learning algorithms learn the best battery manufacturing practices through trial and error. Battery designs and building strategies continue to improve thanks in large part to A.I.
- Range estimation: A.I. provides more realistic range estimations than humans, which helps fleets plan their routes with more precision. A.I. has helped reduce this anxiety by providing more accurate estimates.
- E.V. energy consumption: A.I. is present in many E.V. auxiliary controls, such as the A.C. system and parking assist features. The driver used to operate these controls, but now A.I. can automatically operate them to reduce the E.V.’s energy consumption.
- Charging infrastructure planning: A.I. helps governments determine the most optimal locations for charging stations, which reduces traffic and helps fleets stay on schedule.
Many E.V. drivers report feeling range anxiety because they’re uncertain about the battery’s condition, range fluctuations, and the nearest charging station. A.I. can help solve all of these problems. We can’t completely rely on human intuition to make E.V.s work. Machine learning takes the improvement of E.V. technology beyond limited human understanding.
5. Fuel Cell Technology
Heavy reliance on lithium-ion batteries has been a problem for E.V. development. Mining precious metals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt is labor-intensive and harmful to the environment. Some auto manufacturers are testing out alternative fuels to cut back on mining for these limited resources.
Take a look at this video by The Engineers Post for more:
Fuel cell technology has been the most promising alternative fuel thus far. It creates electric power from hydrogen molecules instead of fossil fuels. The cells release harmless water vapor and have zero emissions.
Cellcentric, one of Europe’s largest fuel cell producers, has taken the lead in developing this technology. The company is a formal partnership between auto manufacturers Volvo and Daimler Trucks. It has developed a new fuel cell with unprecedented capabilities that could take green truck fleets to new heights.
The fuel cells in Cellcentric’s new trucks can reportedly drive 1,000 kilometers – more than 600 miles – on a single charge. Each battery contains two independent fuel cells that combine to create 300 kilowatts of power. Charging takes just 15 minutes, and the trucks can handle up to 65 tons without seeing a decline in performance.
If these estimations are accurate, Cellcentric’s new trucks could be immediate replacements for ICVs. They would also lighten the load on countries with limited charging infrastructure. The emerging fuel cell technology has everything that commercial fleets are looking for: Range, strength, and efficiency.
Manufacturers & Startups to Look Out For in E.V. Technology
Along with Cellcentric and its revolutionary fuel cells, some other manufacturers have emerged as key players in the development of green truck fleets. Here are some startups you should look out for in the coming years:
- BYD: This China-based company is the world’s largest E.V. manufacturer in terms of units sold. It makes electric trucks, vans, buses, forklifts, and rail systems. It has already expanded to the U.S. with new assembly plants in California.
- Chanje: Another Chinese startup, Chanje’s claim to fame, is its lithium batteries with ranges that reach over 150 miles – one of the best in the world as of 2022.
- Rivian: Rivian, a small Michigan startup, took a huge leap when it partnered with Amazon to build 100,000 commercial E.V.s. The partners want all of these vehicles to be on the road by 2023.
- Workhorse: Workhorse is the primary E.V. manufacturer for delivery company UPS. It is also one of the key manufacturers for the United States Postal Service. It has built 950 delivery vans for UPS and will contribute to the USPS’s request for 34,500 delivery trucks in the next few years.
Tesla has hogged the spotlight in E.V. manufacturing for years, but that might change in the near future. Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and other household names have invested billions of dollars in commercial E.V. production, which bodes well for the industry’s growth.
Green Truck Fleets Are Growing
Green truck fleets have grown thanks to stronger batteries, advanced software, and the emergence of new technologies. While the future looks bright, the work is far from over. The journey towards an EV-dominant world will require constant vigilance from the world’s brightest minds, and support from consumers and sustainability minded drivers everywhere.
About the Author
Oscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about cars, auto news, and similar topics. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average battery range of a commercial electric truck?
It depends on the manufacturer. Some companies are looking to exceed 300 miles with their upcoming models, but 150 miles is more realistic for most electric vehicles. Read the full guide for more on the average range of EV batteries.
What big companies are using green truck fleets right now?
Amazon, AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, BestBuy, and IKEA are just a handful of popular companies that primarily use electric trucks in their commercial fleets. Read the full guide to learn more about how electric truck fleets are becoming used more and more for deliveries.
What are the downsides of green truck fleets?
Long-distance journeys, heavy loads, and extreme weather remain the biggest obstacles for all types of E.V.s. However, the recent developments you can learn about in this guide could be viable solutions.
References and Useful Resources
Environmental Leader: Companies Improve Electric Vehicle Infrastructure as Fleets Expand
U.S. Department of Energy: How Do Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles Work Using Hydrogen?
The New York Times: Hurdle to Broad Adoption of E.V.s: The Misperception They’re Unsafe
Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo: The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles