Why Drayage Is an Optimal Use Case for Electrification

There’s a misconception that long two-hour electric vehicle (EV) charges will disrupt the day-to-day operations of heavy duty trucks, even using 350 kW chargers. Yet for drayage trucks that operate 150 miles or less daily, this simply is not true. Using EVs for drayage is far from disruptive — in fact, they can be integrated seamlessly.

Brand new insights from The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE)’s Run on Less program are a first step towards debunking the “EVs won’t work for heavy duty trucking” myth. The program is tracking trucking and charging activity at 10 different Southern California depots, all of which have begun integrating electric trucks into their fleets.

Taking the example of Schneider’s Daimler eCascadias, the data shows that electric drayage trucks do not always need in-shift charging and can easily finish a 13-hour, 200-mile trip with a 20% charge left. What’s more, if they do decide to charge in-shift, they can get back up to 100% in a 30-minute top-up charge during their mandatory rest period or driver switchover.

Source: NACFE

What’s more, on these stop-start drayage schedules, you may never even need to charge back up to almost 100%, so facing disruptive long charges is not in your reality. Drayage trucks have, on average, 14 hours per day of downtime, which makes plenty of time for depot charging. Fleets that domicile near an existing charging station can easily do a top-up charge during the day, charge in full overnight, or in shifts with another truck swapping in and out.

US Foods’ eCascadias do exactly that. They leave the depot every morning around 3:30AM for a multi-stop route that gets them back to base around 4:30PM — and the truck still has 60-70% state of charge. It then charges minimally upon return, waiting for peak energy rates to come down before completing a top up charge.

Now is the time to look critically at perceived drawbacks in EV use cases, as, like drayage charging, many are now myths or misconceptions. Charging technology and infrastructure are moving fast, and the benefits will be gained by those who stay ahead.