Electric trucks like the Chevy Silverado EV and Ford F-150 Lightning are being marketed as eco-friendly alternatives for fleet operators, but for many of these companies, it remains to be seen how effective a battery-electric truck would be in their specific work environment. A recent study conducted by fleet solutions company Geotab attempts to shine some light on the matter, using real-world data from Enterprise Fleet Management to determine if electric trucks are a viable alternative to gasoline or diesel-powered equivalents.
The study analyzed data from 91,000 vehicles operated by Enterprise Fleet Management, with researchers looking at data like daily miles driven, energy costs and maintenance and repair costs. Researchers found Enterprise Fleet Management would be able to replace roughly 45 percent of its current fleet with electric trucks like the Chevy Silverado EV, based on capabilities for range, payload, towing performance and more.
The biggest limitation preventing fleets from replacing the remaining 55 percent of their vehicles with EVs was not range, surprisingly. Researchers found that 76 percent of the trucks they analyzed could be replaced with an EV and not run out of charge during the day. Half of the light-duty trucks analyzed never exceeded 280 miles in a single day over an entire year, and tended to stay well within the range capabilities of most new electric trucks.
One major limitation for many companies looking to adopt a pure EV fleet is purchasing costs. The purchasing costs can be offset by lower running costs for EVs, but only if the vehicle is driven a certain amount throughout its lifetime. “There’s a sweet spot for vehicles that both drive short enough distances to be range-capable and high enough annual mileage to provide a lower [toal cost of ownership] compared to a gas-powered pickup,” researchers concluded. Rather expectedly, the purchasing cost factor is less pronounced in states with higher EV rebates.
The study also looked at other advantages of electric trucks, including their immediate torque, their availability to serve as an on-site power station and the added front storage compartment – sometimes referred to as a “frunk.” All of these are unique advantages of electric trucks that could potentially make them preferable to gas or diesel models, researchers found.
“Electric pickup trucks represent a huge opportunity for fleets,” Geotab said in a release. “The models entering the market already meet over three-quarters of the nearly half a million analyzed vehicles’ daily driving requirements – even on their worst days – and represent significant cost saving opportunities. As their purchase price comes down, whether through a rebate or as a result of the falling cost of battery technology, they will become even more economically desirable.”
GM’s first fleet-focused electric truck, the Chevy Silverado WT, will enter production at its Factory Zero plant in Michigan next spring.