As pressure to increase commercial electrification grows across the trucking industry, California dealers and agencies continue to develop and invest in EV charging infrastructure.
Santa Ana, Calif.-based Tom’s Truck Center, which sells everything from Class 1 electric Ford Mustangs to Class 8 electric Nikola trucks, offers charging stations for the vehicles they sell, President and Chief Executive K.C. Heidler said during a panel discussion at the American Truck Dealers show in Las Vegas last week.
“What we currently have at Tom’s Truck Center is an E-Skids, which is made by ChargePoint, a partner of Nikola,” he said.
Nikola and ChargePoint began a partnership to provide charging infrastructure for Nikola units in November 2022, according to a Nikola release.
Tom’s Truck Center also received approval from its power company to add Level 3 fast-charging units but is waiting for the transformer, Heidler said. Level 3 chargers can cost between $37,500 and more than $100,000, with EV charger installation firm Smart Charge America listing a level 3 ChargePoint charger at $52,000 on the company’s website.
Meanwhile, electric truck charging infrastructure developer WattEV secured $75.6 million from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to build three California charging depots, according to a Jan. 17 press release. The move follows Watt EV’s opening of a 13-charger station at the Port of Long Beach, creating the largest public, heavy-duty, commercial truck charging depot on July 24, 2022.
Getting on the same wavelength
While Tom’s Truck Center uses ChargePoint E-Skids, the dealership looks to continue investing in more electric and hydrogen fuel cell charging solutions to meet customer interests, Heidler said.
“We just did a good sample of our medium-duty customer, had a really good response rate, and what was interesting considering the assets, is there was heavy interest in the hydrogen-fuel cell,” he said.
Sharing information remains key to development of commercial electric trucks and charging, Kim Mesfin, president of Fresno, Calif.-based Affinity Truck Center, said after the panel.
“The more information we could share on truck electrification, charging and the dynamics on the ground technology, the better off we’ll be talking to your customers,” she said. “As a California truck dealer, I live and breathe these changes and challenges every day, and we need to get it right to be successful.”
Years to prepare
Despite investment efforts for alternative fuels continuing, the near future for the trucking industry favors clean diesel as the alternative fuel of choice, Paul Rosa, senior vice president for procurement and fleet planning at Penske Truck Leasing, said during the panel.
“In the next several years, it’s likely to be clean diesel,” he said. “Clean diesel with a sprinkle of electric and a little dash of hydrogen.”
Tom’s Truck Center projects it will be 20 years before alternative fuel trucks account for 50% of its sales, Heidler said.
“That doesn’t mean that some of our customers aren’t affected by [proposed legislation related to electrification], but there is time to make the right decisions when it comes to charging equipment,” he said.
For comparison, Bloomberg projects electric vehicles to account for 56% of all light commercial vehicle sales and 31% of medium-duty commercial vehicle sales in China, the United States and Europe by 2040. Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board’s current timeline requires all truck sales to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2036.
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