According to a recent report from Navigant Research, sales of electric trucks and buses are expected to total more than 805,000 from 2014 to 2023.

Although medium- and heavy-duty vehicles represent just a fraction of all vehicles on roadways today, they contribute significantly to road transportation sector fuel consumption and carbon emissions. However, electric drive vehicles — with improved fuel efficiency, technological advances, and an alternative to gasoline and diesel fuels — are beginning to make inroads in this segment as commercial and government fleet operators consider investing in greener vehicles.

“Recent innovation in the electric drive medium-/heavy-duty segment has the possibility to offer significant benefits for commercial applications,” said David Alexander, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “For example, some hybrid electric vehicles have drive cycles specifically designed for stop-start traffic, and many plug-in electric vehicles can use onboard electrical energy to replace idling diesel engines or provide temporary power to buildings or tools at remote sites.”

Despite these advances, most fleet managers are more concerned with the return on investment than with the technology and are targeting a payback term of less than three years, according to the report. While incentives can help to lower the initial investment, managers look at the overall cost of running a fleet for multiple years, considering the effect of introducing new technology on the fleet as a whole and not just replacing a single vehicle with a different one.

The report, “Electric Drive Trucks and Buses,” analyzes the global market for commercial vehicles that use electric drive vehicle technology in three main segments: hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Forecasts for the two hybrid segments fueled partly by petroleum derivatives (PHEVs and HEVs) are broken out by region and by fuel: gasoline or diesel. Global market forecasts for sales and the number of vehicles in use, segmented by country, drivetrain, and liquid fuel, extend through 2023.