Electric vehicle news came quickly on Wednesday, with three major industry players making important announcements, topped off by Schneider National's SNDR announcement that it will begin an electric-truck test program.
Navistar and Volvo Trucks North America also chipped in with news that they will expand charging infrastructure and opportunities for ongoing projects.
Schneider said it will begin testing a Freightliner eCascadia through Daimler Trucks North America's (DTNA) Freightliner Customer Experience (CX) Fleet. The CX Fleet is designed to assist customers in testing electric vehicles in real-world applications.
"Schneider's commitment to innovation is matched only by our commitment to operating sustainably," Jake VandeLoo, vice president of equipment engineering at Schneider, said. "Joining the Freightliner CX Fleet is a great opportunity to flex both of those muscles and help lead the industry in transitioning to more sustainable transportation options.
"From a driver's perspective, they'll experience a great ride. The truck is very quiet with little to no vibration, and a straight acceleration means there's no real loss of power or torque. The overall feel is very smooth."
During testing, Schneider will evaluate the Class 8 eCascadia day cab for the where it best fits within mode, freight characteristics and areas of operation for the charging range; what charging requirements are needed to maximize vehicle productivity; and what facility modifications may be needed to accommodate electric trucks in the future.
"It's critical that we collaborate with customers across multiple segments to further our understanding of how commercial battery electric trucks will be part of a long-term solution in CO2-neutral transportation," said Richard Howard, senior vice president for on-highway sales and marketing, DTNA DDAIF. "Our customers provide important, continuous feedback that contributes to our ongoing design and purposeful innovation of these trucks, and together we will lead the future."
Testing will begin later this summer and continue through the summer of 2021.
Volvo broadens charging options in LIGHTS project
REMA EV Connections has secured Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification for its Combined Charging System CCS2 connector. REMA is the key supplier for charging options for the Volvo Trucks North America LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project in California.
LIGHTS is testing five battery-powered Class 7-8 trucks with Dependable Supply Chain Services and NFI Industries. Volvo is spending nearly $40 million on the LIGHTS program, which also received $44.8 million from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The program is a collaboration with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) and 13 other organizations to develop a blueprint to successfully introduce battery-electric trucks and equipment into the market at scale. The project, taking place in Southern California, is demonstrating a range of strategies to provide flexible and cost-effective charging options to commercial fleet operators.
The CCS2 connector is new to the North American market and is considered a step up from the CCS1 connector that is currently prevalent here. The UL certification indicates that CCS2 connectors meet North American safety standards, which enables fleet operators to purchase these fast-charging systems directly from suppliers — including Volvo LIGHTS vendor ABB — and not have to go through a complex field certification process after the chargers are installed. Additionally, it paves the way for utilities and other agencies to expand their list of approved charging options for electric vehicle fleet infrastructure programs.
"The CCS2 UL-certification will give fleets more charging options and greater flexibility for integrating battery-electric vehicles into their fleets in a very nascent marketspace," said Keith Brandis, vice president, partnerships and strategic solutions at Volvo Group. "As part of the innovative Volvo LIGHTS project, our team was happy to collaborate with ABB and REMA to accelerate the UL certification of the CCS2 connector, which will be used to charge Volvo's pilot VNR Electric trucks."
The Combined Charging System joins AC and DC charging into a single port on the vehicle. The CCS1 and CCS2 connectors primarily differ with the type of AC charging. The CCS1 is designed for single-phase AC charging, while the CCS2 enables three-phase AC charging via the J3068 NA standard.
Brandis noted that fleet operators will benefit as the new connector will simplify infrastructure installation by making use of an onboard converter located on many electric vehicles.
ABB is installing a mix of high-voltage-capable public and private electric vehicle chargers that utilize REMA's CCS2 connectors, including the Terra 54HV (50 kW) and the HVC 150 Depot Box (150 kW).
Navistar inks deal with In-Charge for electric charging infrastructure
Navistar NAV announced an agreement with In-Charge Energy to provide charging infrastructure and consulting services to the company and its electric vehicle customers. The master services agreement is with Navistar's NEXT eMobility Solutions business unit.
NEXT, which launched in October, is working on high-voltage systems, batteries, power electronics, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, electric vehicle hardware and software integration. The group focuses on the "four C's": consulting, construction, charging and connecting.
"With electric vehicles, it's important to understand that we can provide the very best bus or truck for our customers, but if they don't have a partner to show them how to operate it, charge it or take care of it in the long run, it likely won't be a successful deployment," Jason Gies, director of business development for Navistar, said. "This partnership ensures that IC Bus and International Truck customers have the infrastructure support they need to ultimately be successful in electric."
Cameron Fund, CEO of In-Charge, said an electric vehicle provides a lower total cost of ownership than a conventional vehicle only if it is deployed in conjunction with a "well-designed infrastructure."
"Navistar has the right vision and In-Charge is pleased to provide their end-to-end charging solution," he said.
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