I’ve been reviewing materials from last week’s inaugural, biennial, North American Commercial Vehicle Show. Clearly, the overriding theme of announcements from many companies was that electrification of commercial vehicles is going mainstream.
The recent problems in Europe with companies admitting to avoiding regulations for diesel have accentuated the move. The likes of Tesla, Nikola, Hyliion, and OTTO (now Uber Advanced Technology Group) were not present. But Daimler Trucks, Dana, Navistar, Cummins, WABCO, Meritor, Borg Warner, Bosch, and Thermoking all had something to say regarding electrifying their products immediately or in the next 2-5 years. With some cities around the world moving more steadily to eliminating internal combustion powered vehicles from certain sections, the need for smaller electric vehicles is clear. Surprising was the emphasis on moving to class 6-8 vehicles as well.
We used to call it hub and spoke. The idea was that freight would move from one city center to another, then fan out from the center to the rest of the city. Times have changed. With interstate routes circling most larger cities, we should think of it more as Wheel-2-Wheel-2-Hub with the hub still at the city center, but the freight moving from the tire to the hub using smaller vehicles with less emissions, such as electric vehicles.