Industry News

Biden’s EV revolution a boon for electric trucks, House Speaker

US research and consultancy firm IDTechEx claims the electric truck market in the US is primed for huge growth.

Just five days into his presidency, President Biden announced that his Government is planning to replace its entire fleet of combustion engine vehicles – said to total nearly 650,000 units – with electric vehicles manufactured in the US.

The move will reportedly create around one million ‘clean-energy’ automotive jobs, in what Biden described as the “largest mobilisation of public investment in procurement, infrastructure and R&D since WWII”.

However, eyebrows were raised after it was reported that the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated a potentially very profitable Tesla stock deal shortly before the Biden administration released plans to make the federal automobile fleet fully electric.

Tesla manufactures a suite of electric cars and is also developing a range of electric trucks.

According to self-proclaimed non-partisan watchdog group Take Back Our Republic Action Fund, last month venture capitalist Paul Pelosi bought up to $1 million worth of Tesla stock when the price was roughly $640.34 a share.

The price had reportedly shot up to $838 a share on the Nasdaq exchange following Biden’s announcement.

“It’s corrupt and unacceptable for members of Congress, particularly the Speaker, to trade stocks in companies affected by their votes in Congress,” said Take Back Our Republic Executive Director, John Pudner.

“Elected leaders from all political parties should live up to a standard of ethics that ordinary Americans see as vital to the country.”

A recent financial disclosure report by Mrs Pelosi reportedly showed the couple had made 25 stock market manoeuvres, known as call options, which will allow the acquisition of Tesla shares at $500 each up to March 2022.

The amount of the investment was said to be as much as $1 million.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the US federal fleet comprises close to 650,000 vehicles with around 100,000 medium-duty and 40,000 heavy-duty trucks in the inventory.

While the strategy, funding, and timelines behind the policy are yet to be expounded, it is clear that the new Administration sees vehicle electrification both as a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emission (with the co-benefit of improving air quality) and for supporting the US automotive sector.

Biden’s announcement dovetails with the California Air Resources Board’s recent Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which mandates that 75 per cent of new Class 4-8 rigid trucks and 55 per cent of new prime movers in California must be zero-emission by 2035.

This along with growing evidence of significant demand for commercial EVs from major US corporations is expected to give confidence to truck manufacturers and their supply chain partners that the market for electric trucks will be worth the resources and investment that is necessary to transition away from the internal combustion engine.

Established OEMs such as Freightliner (Daimler), Volvo, and PACCAR are already conducting extensive real-world pilots of heavy-duty electric trucks.

However, it remains to be seen whether battery electric vehicles will be able to offer the range required for long haul trucking applications.

While the mass of batteries required and the likely need for ultra-fast charging undoubtedly make long haul EV trucking a challenge, there is a significant market for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that do not require extensive range.

At the Novi Battery Show, Pepsi Director of Fleet Engineering and Sustainability, Keshav Sondhi, said of all the Class 8 (heavy-duty) trucks at Pepsi’s Sacramento facility, 93 per cent operate less than 100 miles per day and are parked for 15 or more hours which is more than adequate time for charging.

(Image: Penske Truck Leasing electric Freightliner eCascadia at work for Black Horse Carriers).

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