The ZM22 is a battery-electric truck with a GVW of 48,500 lbs. - Photo: Work Truck | ZM Trucks

The ZM22 is a battery-electric truck with a GVW of 48,500 lbs. 

Photo: Work Truck | ZM Trucks

ZM Trucks is the western expression of ZO Motors, a manufacturer and seller of zero-emission, urban-environment work trucks. Born in Japan, sourced from a global supply chain, and assembled near their sales regions, ZM Trucks are purpose-built alternative-fuel vehicles offering total cost of ownership (TCO) price parity with traditional diesel trucks. 

“We are citizens of the world and technology agnostic in our quest to provide optimal transportation solutions for businesses that depend on commercial vehicles to accomplish their missions. We help these businesses seamlessly transition from diesel to clean energy – with all the associated financial, operational, and regulatory benefits – by providing superior products and support services for their urban transport operations,” said Joost de Vries, chief executive officer of ZO Motors Global.

Developing a Practical Electric Truck  

When asked how ZM Trucks differentiates itself from other electric vehicle brands available today, de Vries said, “ZM Trucks is not idealistically green. We are practical and pragmatic, promising a competitive advantage to our customers with the best, most cost-effective commercial transportation solutions, whether they be battery-electric powered, hydrogen fuel-cell powered, or otherwise.”

ZM Trucks delivers 21st-century solutions that help increase profitability and reduce stress.

“Cost-per-minute, cost-per-mile, cost-per-load; whatever metric you prefer, we offer a superior transportation solution,” he added.  

According to de Vries, ZM Trucks require less maintenance, are easier to drive, and help future-proof businesses in the face of rising fuel prices, taxes, and regulations. Meanwhile, the ZM Trucks ecosystem covers customers from vehicle purchase through fleet operation and management. 

“Finally, we are backed by a well-established, well-funded parent company in ZO Future Group, and our products, unlike those of so many other new EV brands, are proven platforms that have accumulated millions of real-world driving miles,” he explained. 

The ZM4 is a battery-electric van with a 14,330-lb. GVW. - Photo: Work Truck | ZM Trucks

The ZM4 is a battery-electric van with a 14,330-lb. GVW. 

Photo: Work Truck | ZM Trucks

A Growing Need for Zero-Emission Vehicles

ZM Trucks will bring Class 4, 5, 6, and a “baby 8” truck platform to North America. These platforms have been market-proven products in various Asian countries, from arctic to tropical conditions. 

“The North American market was always deemed as ‘not ready’ for zero emission solutions as the price of traditional hydrocarbon energy used to be very cost-effective,” de Vries explained. “With ACT rules imposed on trucking companies and the supply chain advantages we can tap into, we felt it was the right time to bring some of our product portfolio to the North American market and offer a different answer to the operators' TCO challenges.”

De Vries added that bringing the trucks to North America was not just to comply with the latest whim of legislation “but also because they are superior in terms of financial performance, noise level, driver comfort, and emission performance.”

The ZMx is a fuel cell electric vehicle from ZM Trucks. - Photo: Jim Park

The ZMx is a fuel cell electric vehicle from ZM Trucks. 

Photo: Jim Park

Increasing Comfort with Electric Truck Options

It’s no secret that fleets hesitate to go “all in” on fleet electrification.

“The biggest concerns are typically cost, range anxiety/charging concerns, and fitness for purpose. On the cost concern, we will offer a competitive TCO price point vs. diesel,” de Vries noted.

For range anxiety and charging concerns, ZM Trucks addresses the lack, time, and cost of DC charging infrastructure by offering simple and cost-efficient powerful 20kW AC charger solutions for overnight charging alongside available DC charging options. 

“These are work trucks, not long-distance tractors. We have made it easy so that charging is not regarded as this insurmountable barrier to start driving battery-electric vehicles,” he said.

As to fitness of purpose, ZM Trucks are designed with clean back-of-cab, in-frame high-voltage batteries, and clean chassis rails, enabling efficient and easy upfit solutions. ZM Trucks also offers dual ePTO solutions on all products, allowing fleets to continue using trusted hydraulics and take advantage of the latest refrigeration solutions from the major suppliers, who can tap into the vehicle’s high-voltage systems. 

“Flexible solar panels have evolved to where they make economic sense now, too. Our 1,500-watt flexible solar panel array will fit on any 12 ft. and bigger box truck and take the load off our trucks' 24v low voltage system. Any low voltage assist we can add increases range and allows the vehicle to be parked for extended periods without having to worry about the state of charge in the high voltage system,” de Vries explained.  

Additionally, for those odd transport runs where fleets are concerned the truck won’t have enough range (such as traffic congestion or inclement weather), ZM Trucks offers a removable gas-powered generator that can be easily swapped between the fleet trucks and can add 20 kWh of DC charging, providing critical peace of mind if you’re still apprehensive of driving battery-electric vehicles.

The ZM8 is a fuel-cell truck with a GVW of 19,510 lbs. - Photo: Work Truck | ZM Trucks

The ZM8 is a fuel-cell truck with a GVW of 19,510 lbs. 

Photo: Work Truck | ZM Trucks

Global Reliability in North American Fleet Operations

According to de Vries, ZM Trucks meet or beat diesel in all metrics that count.

“There are no science experiments. They are globally manufactured, leveraging proven platforms that have already accumulated millions of miles of real-world driving,” said de Vries.

He further explained that the longevity of e-axes or LFP High-Voltage batteries has already been proven in Asia and Europe.

“The fuel cells we deploy are at the magic 1-million-mile durability goals, and this is in a Class 5/6/8 cab/chassis,” he added.

ZM Trucks officially announced its intent to enter the North American market at the ACT Expo. - Photo: Jim Park

ZM Trucks officially announced its intent to enter the North American market at the ACT Expo. 

Photo: Jim Park

ZM Trucks partners with select suppliers to bring its cab/chassis products to a complete, usable truck for fleet managers. The company offers rapid body build times, particularly for box and refrigerated trucks, and all products come equipped with dual ePTOs, making upfit solutions easy.

“We also provide simple, no-permit AC charging solutions, comprehensive fleet management software, and an experienced service network. We partner with mobile H2 fueling providers for our hydrogen customers since the brick-and-mortar infrastructure is not yet in place. We offer remote and onsite training, tools, and service support for large fleets,” de Vries said.

According to de Vries, roadside assistance, including emergency charging, is available to all. ZM Trucks also provides grant research and application assistance as part of its incentive support, along with finance and leasing solutions.

The trucks’ powertrain is programmed to reduce the torque levels at startup, and traction tire wear is comparable to diesel-powered trucks.

“We also understand that insurance carriers are not as familiar yet with battery-electric for fuel cell vehicles. ZM Trucks helps customers educate their carrier to lower the premium or offer insurance partner(s) that know our product and price the risk appropriately,” de Vries said.

And any fleet looking to electrify understands the challenges surrounding infrastructure.

ZM Trucks and its dealers provide comprehensive support, aiding customers with initial paperwork to access state incentives and ongoing reporting requirements. This support ensures maximum retention of funds during the transition from diesel-powered trucks to zero-emission solutions. 

Beyond sales, ZM Trucks offers training, service, diagnostics, parts support, and a cloud-based fleet management system, all focused on reducing cost per mile.

ZM Trucks is still in the process of establishing its presence in North America. It will debut its brand at ACT Expo in May 2024 in Las Vegas.

Over the following months, announcements related to factory location, upfitter partnerships, dealers, and future customers will be forthcoming. Sign up for the Work Truck eNewsletter to never miss an update!

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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