As the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on U.S. and Canadian roads continues to grow, more fleets turn to EVs to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions.
The EV market was even a hot topic of discussion during the first 2020 presidential debate, with both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden extremely optimistic about EVs’ future.
Trump claimed he would be “all for electric cars with big incentives,” while Biden said he would electrify the federal fleet, as well as add 500,000 charging stations on highways.
The tipping point for vehicle electrification for work vans and trucks seems to be here.
“The market is gaining momentum as fleets look to meet new regulations, reduce costs, and address social pressures for cleaner transportation," according to Matt O’Leary, chairman and CEO at Motiv Power Systems, a manufacturer of all-electric chassis for medium-duty commercial vehicles. “As an example, the California Advanced Clean Truck rule mandates 50% of trucks sold must be zero-emissions by 2035, and 100% by 2045,” said O’Leary. “Many other states have also followed suit.”
Based in Foster City, Calif., Motiv’s mission includes freeing fleets from fossil fuels and providing them a pathway for electrification to get ahead of these regulations while also achieving quantifiable business outcomes.
Motiv Releases Fifth-Gen EPIC Chassis for EV Use
Since 2013, Motiv has deployed more than 100 Class 4–6 all-electric vehicles. The company’s EPIC product line is used for many body configurations, including step vans, box trucks, work trucks, shuttle buses, school buses, trolleys, and other specialty vehicles.
The company just released its fifth-gen EPIC chassis for medium-duty electric fleets that incorporates BMW’s high-performance batteries in a new architecture and includes Motiv’s latest release of its AdaptEV software, which includes telematics, hill-hold driver assist, two-hour high-speed charging using direct current fast charging, and vehicle-to-grid support capability.
The fifth-gen Epic F-59 and E-450 chassis feature 30% fewer components in the electric powertrain and improve range, acceleration, and top speed, according to O’Leary. They also offer fleets over 99% uptime and up to 85% operation and maintenance cost savings compared to ICE vehicles.
“Specifically, the new fifth-generation EPIC chassis means an increase in range and kWh capacity, reduced vehicle weight for more payload and passengers, and reduced cost for a product fleets can depend on to get their work done,” O’Leary added.
Across Class 4–6, Motiv’s EPIC chassis provides 127 kWh battery capacity and between 80–120 real-world miles, depending on routes and terrain, which works well for fleets with predictable routes and return-to-depot locations.
“This isn’t some niche technology. It’s mainstream with plenty of real-world examples of fleet reliability metrics,” O’Leary stated.
Currently, 20 U.S. fleets are using the EPIC chassis, including service fleets and multiple school districts. Two fleets taking their use of EV technology to the next level are Bimbo Bakeries USA and Purolator. Bimbo is using the EPIC chassis now to reduce fuel consumption and minimize their environmental footprint, while Purolator is deploying in 2021.
Bimbo Bakeries Benefits From EV Vehicle Use
Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU) operates more than 60 bakeries, employs more than 20,000 associates, and distributes products through 11,000 sales routes throughout the U.S. The company first began using alternative-fuel vehicles in 2014, when LPG vehicles were integrated into the fleet.
Eric McCann, technical fleet manager, helped start the alt-fuel vehicle program at BBU. McCann is responsible for vehicle specifications, the adoption of telematics, and the growth of the company’s sustainable fleet, which has grown to almost 400 vehicles that include LPG, CNG, and EV technology.
“Sustainability is built into our company’s purpose, and incorporating these vehicles into our fleet is an important step toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said McCann.
BBU used five Motiv-powered electric trucks (built on the EPIC F-59 — with 106 kWh) during a 12-month pilot program, using a walk-in-van application to deliver baked goods. After the successful pilot program ended, another 23 trucks are in production and the company plans another 100 electric walk-in vans, powered by Motiv’s Epic F-59 chassis, for 2021. The vehicles are set to deploy across California, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“We’ve seen an improved ride, improved uptime, repair, and maintenance reduction, and fuel reduction — cost per gallon vs. cost per kWh,” said McCann.
The main impact of the all-electric chassis on BBU’s fleet vehicle includes:
- A reduction in fuel and carbon footprint.
- 22 metric tons CO2 offset (total emissions saved from the cumulative mileage so far).
- 3,156 metric tons of CO2 offset (emission savings for additional 128 trucks per annum).
McCann has seen driver satisfaction remain high, with no charging issues or maintenance concerns.
“Right now, the drivers are happy with the performance, our state of charge looks good upon return to base, and the vehicles have not missed a day of delivery due to the technology since we deployed them,” McCann explained.
Purolator to Reduce Emissions With All-Electric Step Vans
Canadian courier Purolator is another company committed to reducing its environmental footprint, working toward net-zero emissions by 2050. The organization began testing hybrid vehicles in 2001, fully incorporating them into the fleet in 2005.
Since then, the company has evolved its sustainable fleet and is now working with Motiv to deploy five EPIC F-59 chassis step vans with Morgan Olson bodies. The vans will be equipped with three BMW battery packs with 127 kWh capacity and a range of 105 miles.
“While the vehicles have not been deployed yet, we expect 82 metric tons of CO2 annual tailpipe emission savings,” said Serge Viola, director of national fleet at Purolator.
Viola is responsible for the lifecycle of Purolator’s Canadian fleet, a total of over 5,000 Class 4 curbside delivery vehicles and up to class 8 highway tractors and trailers. He has been instrumental in introducing hybrid electric technology to Purolator’s pickup and delivery Class 4 vehicles.
Purolator hopes to achieve both sustainability objectives — including providing drivers with a healthier, smoother, and quieter driving experience while reducing pollution — and quantifiable business objectives, including operation and maintenance cost savings.
The vehicles come equipped with Motiv’s AdaptEV software platform, which increases vehicle benefits, according to Viola.
“What we’re most excited about Motiv’s AdaptEV software and power electronics is that learnings from one fleet can easily become updates for all fleet customers via over-the-air updates,” he stated.
Undertaking a fleet electrification project can seem daunting, according to O’Leary.
“There are so many questions to ask and decisions to make. Fleets are hesitant to go all-in, and rightfully so they are looking for a partner that will help with not just vehicles, but also other project aspects,” he said.
Other considerations include charging infrastructure, coordination with utilities, grant and incentive support, and driver training to ensure post-deployment success. Choosing the right EV partner is critical to success, O’Leary concluded.