Our Electric Future: You Don’t Have to See It to Believe It

While There’s Work to Be Done, the Benefits Are Too Rewarding to Ignore
Daimler eM2 charging
DTNA's eM2's have ranges of 180-250 miles on a single charge. (Daimler Truck North America)

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As a person of a certain age, I am fond of the tune by Marcia Griffiths, “Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide),” which has been a staple of any wedding reception and dance party for decades. The basic premise of the song is about enjoying life, having fun and, of course, getting into a groove.

What makes it a classic is the accompanying line dance that throws a row of partygoers into a choreographed circle on the floor.

What does that have to do with equipment and maintenance? For me, it’s the phrase from the song that came to my mind when I entered any discussion last year about electric vehicles and the impending infrastructure challenges: “It’s electric!”

Simple as that thought is, there are similarities I’ve noticed between the opening lyric and reactions I’ve seen in the industry about electric trucks in the last year:

Michael Freeze


“You can’t see it”

Last spring while at the ACT Expo in California, I had the chance to view Daimler Truck North America’s reveal of its Freightliner eM2, a battery-­electric, medium-­duty truck designed for pickup and delivery applications. In addition, I spoke with the staff about the infra­structure and their partnerships that will help fleets make a proper transition into electrification.

Standing in California, it was easy to see the impact that EVs will have on the trucking industry. However, outside that state, there are still skeptics, dare I say cynics, who voice legitimate concerns about energy usage and hauling power, sometimes accompanied by a conspiracy meme.

But those comments, I learned, come from a place where an electric truck fleet is not that viable of a solution, or simply, they are not seeing it! According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted last year, there is still work to be done: 17% of Americans say they are extremely or very confident the U.S. will build a necessary EV infrastructure, while 30% are somewhat confident and 53% are not too confident or not at all confident.

I need not sound gloomy about this. Electrification is coming, and it’s going to be in our mix in the future. The UPSes, FedExes and Schneiders of the world have been full steam ahead for almost two decades. The benefits are too rewarding to ignore.

And anecdotally, anyone I’ve known who has had the opportunity to sit in the cab and ride in an electric Class 8 vehicle has since become electrification’s biggest fan.

Case in point, our Equipment Perspective columnist, John Baxter, had the privilege of visiting Volvo’s Sweden headquarters to experience the OEM’s electric powertrain. In his words, he was once a skeptic, but is now a firm believer in how its adoption will be vital for the industry to move forward.

The reality is that adoption will be a long haul. Right now, as the California Air Resources Board is implementing its Advanced Clean Fleets rules, there are still kinks to be worked out, especially on a scalable level.

However, as the unsure become the proponents, one person at a time, like Mr. Baxter, the trucking industry will be on the path to the electric slide.

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