Monday, December 5, 2016

The Business Case for Reducing Emissions in Truck Transport

There is a strong business case that can be made for reducing emissions associated with trucking. While trucking is essential for the transportation of goods, it is associated with air pollution and climate change causing greenhouse gases (GHGs). Reigning in emissions from transportation is a serious issues as this is the second largest source of GHGs after energy production. However, a new generation of emissions-free trucks is on the horizon that is better for both the environment and the bottom line.

Transport systems account for at least a quarter of world energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Big trucks powered by combustion engines are gas guzzlers. Some of these trucks get as little as 5 or 6 miles to the gallon. Truck transport is also a major contributor to air pollution that has been shown to be harmful to human health.

In the US trucks haul 80 percent of all goods and burn about 28 billion gallons of fuel per year accounting for 22 percent of total transportation energy usage. The EPA says that medium- and heavy-duty vehicles constitute about 5 percent of the vehicles on the road but they account for about one-fifth of GHG emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation.

GHG emissions from transport are increasing at a faster rate than any other energy using sector. According to the EPA, oil consumption and greenhouse emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are expected to surpass that of passenger vehicles at the global scale by 2030.

New cleaner technologies are being integrated into trucks giving trucking companies some options to consider. These new semi trucks offer a host of benefits. In addition to zero emissions and better fuel efficiency electric and hydrogen trucks can also provide extended brake life, improved working conditions and increased productivity. Additional benefits include better vehicle performance, reduced noise levels, and a smoother ride.

Trucking companies are under increasing pressure from manufacturers that are looking for more sustainable solutions from their supply chains. Companies are looking for ways of making their fleets operate more economically with lower emissions profiles.

According to tests done by the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuse vehicles average 43 percent savings in fuel consumption annually and improved engine efficiency compared to traditional variants.

A typical Class 8 hybrid refuse vehicle reduces carbon emissions by 48 tons a year with a 50 percent fuel savings. The technology to make emissions-free trucks has been around for years but the cost was thought to be prohibitive. Electric trucks are three times more expensive than the internal combustion engine truck.

However, according to a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a fleet of electric trucks operating daily in a big city can actually be 9 - 13 percent less than a standard diesel fleet. The studies co-author, Jarrod Goentzel, said, "There has to be a good business case if there is going to be more adoption of electric vehicles. We think it's already a viable economic model, and as battery costs continue to drop..."

There are also other reasons why combustion engines are of questionable economic value. One of these factors is the volatility of fossil fuel prices.

There are significant financial benefits to electric trucking. This is why the Nikola Motor Company, the makers of the Nikola One hydrogen electric semi truck have a business model that is focusing on commercial vehicles.  

As explained in an Environmental leader article by Tom DeCoster, HDS business development manager for Parker Hybrid Drive Systems:

"The business case for alternative vehicles is compelling, and data continues to be collected across all of the sectors. There is no denying that what is good for business is also good for the environment and reduces our oil dependency significantly."

Related
Nikola One: The Hydrogen-Powered Electric Semi Truck of the Future (Video)
An Electric Truck Case Study: Smith Electric Goes Chinese to Stay Alive
EPA Proposes New Fuel Efficiency Rules for Heavy Trucks
The US Transportation Sector can Reduce Petroleum Use and GHG emissions by 80% over the Next Few Decades
Ten Greenest Trucking Companies in North America
Sustainable Transportation
Trucking Companies Need to do More than Reduce Emissions on the Road 
Video - Sustainable Transportation Ideas of the Future

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