ACT Expo Marked a New Phase for Clean Vehicles Being Integral in Hitting the Net Zero Target

More than 12,000 attendees went to ACT Expo 2023 last week at the Anaheim Convention Center.

There were plenty of signs that the clean transportation business is going through a growth surge:
1. The event outgrew the Long Beach Convention Center, with 12,000 attendees this year versus 8,000 last year. It’s gotten to the point where the conference will move to Las Vegas next year and back to Anaheim in two years, but not having to share the space with another conference (a nursing convention) as was the case this year.
2. The rollouts and announcements were nonstop, with big announcements coming from major truck builders on the electric and hydrogen fronts.
3. Conference speakers called out the fact that commercial trucks — medium- and heavy-duty — make up less than 5% of vehicles on U.S. roads but make up 23% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Ground transportation will make for a big part of the global challenge, that the U.S. has committed to, of reaching net zero by 2050. Panel speakers expect that by 2040, key achievements will be met in the clean vehicles and in the fueling and charging infrastructure needed to make it all happen.
4. The exhibit hall was packed with booths and vehicle displays — from Volvo Construction’s electric powered crane (the EC 230 Electric Excavator) to BYD’s electric school bus.
5. Gaps still need to be overcome in the electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling station networks to serve this growth trend in zero-emission trucks. However, Nikola Corp. had some good news here. The company is getting up to $1 billion for 50 of its planned hydrogen fueling stations. Infrastructure developer Voltera Inc. has agreed to build the stations under a five-year agreement.

Here are a few highlights from the conference and expo:

Day two keynoter Dana CEO Jim Kamsickas gave a history lesson going back close to 200 years ago — and how far it’s all come along. “We are in the midst of disruptive change in commercial transportation,” he said. “The convergence of innovative technology around us has influenced the way we develop our vehicles, with software becoming the defining force for connectivity, autonomy, tracking, and predictive maintenance.”

The State of Sustainable Fleets — 2023 Market Brief was released. Diesel trucks will be sunsetting earlier than expected as the roadmap to zero-emission vehicles gets set out in many states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a heavy-duty engine rule in late 2022 that sets the strictest national standards ever on emissions that contribute to air pollution. This report came out days after the California Air Resources Board’s new Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule was released. It will require that all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold or registered in the state of California will be zero-emission by 2036. 

Hydrogen fuel cell trucks played a leading role on the show floor as it plays a significant part in zero emission vehicle (ZEV) targets being met. Hyundai Motor debuted the mass-production model of its class 8 fuel cell electric truck tractor, XCIENT Fuel Cell. Toyota said it will place its fuel cell powertrains in Kenworth and Peterbilt vehicles.

Electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks filled much of the floor space. Freightliner-owned Daimler unveiled a new medium-duty truck brand, eM2. Mack Trucks just doubled its zero-emissions vehicle offerings with the new MD Electric medium-duty truck. Navistar’s International Class 6 eMV now has a factory-installed optional ePower and electric power take-off electrical system. The truckmaker also announced that its Class 8 battery electric vehicle will go into production in 2024 with a few demo units expected on the road later this year.

PepsiCo confirmed it will enter at least one of its Tesla Semi trucks in the ‘Run On Less’ trucking industry event later this year. It will be Pepsico’s entry in the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s Run on Less – Electric Depot. NACFE Executive Director Mike Roeth reported that data will be streamed on the Semi’s daily routes during September’s run.

Volvo Trucks North America tripled its Certified Electric Vehicle Dealerships from 12 to 36 locations, with 56 more coming up — all of this in less than a year.

Cummins Inc. announced the launch of Accelera by Cummins, a new brand for its New Power business unit. Accelera provides a diverse portfolio of zero-emissions solutions for many of the world’s most vital industries empowering customers to accelerate their transition to a sustainable future. The company says the line-up emphasizes the role that hydrogen will play as part of “Destination Zero.” The company is also working on electrolyzers that can produce hydrogen that can power both a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine (H2-ICE) concept truck and a fuel cell electric powertrain.

Winners of this year’s ACT Expo Fleet Awards:

  • Leading Off-Road Fleet: Sunbelt Rentals
  • Leading School Fleet: Lower Merion School District 
  • Transit and Mobility Award: Montgomery County, Maryland 
  • Leading Private Fleet: Manhattan Beer Distributors 
  • Leading Airport Fleet: Kansas City International Airport 
  • Leading Public Fleet: New York City Fleet
  • Leading Carrier: Performance Team Logistics LLC 
  • In It for the Long-Haul Award: NFI 

GreenPower unveiled the EV Star Utility, a purpose-built, all-electric, all-aluminum utility stake bed truck. The EV Star Utility is built on the company’s EV Star Cab & Chassis and is designed for vocational applications such as landscaping, construction, agriculture, public works and more.
Hino Trucks has signed a distribution agreement with Hexagon Purus to exclusively distribute a complete battery electric tractor. This tractor will utilize Hexagon Purus’ proprietary zero-emission technology, including battery systems, auxiliary modules, power modules and the vehicle-level software and is developed to operate on Hino’s XL 4×2 tractor cab chassis.
Peterbilt displayed its Model 520EV refuse configuration featuring the industry’s first all-electric side loader body from Heil.  In contrast to traditional hydraulically powered bodies, this electric-actuated body uses no hydraulics while on route and is fully integrated with the 520EV. The company said that it results in an energy-efficient vehicle with single point of charge and increased range. Peterbilt also displayed its Model 579 equipped with Aurora L4 advanced autonomous technology. 

Southern California-based Tom’s Truck Center has just added Nikola Corp’s battery-electric Class 8 truck to its electric commercial truck lineup. They are now available for sale at Tom’s two dealerships (along Interstate 5 in Santa Ana, Calif. and Santa Fe Springs, Calif.), and a fuel cell version is expected by the end of the year. Tom’s has also invested in charging stations at its two locations.

Hyzon Motors, a supplier of zero-emission heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles, released its white paper, Designing the Future of Fuel Cells, a white paper describing the Company’s progress toward producing a single stack 200kW fuel cell system. The company reported that most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have opted to combine two complete sets of 90-150kW fuel cell systems. Hyzon’s in-house fuel cell system design and production, combined with a strategic network of suppliers, means that its 200kW fuel cell system offers a single stack that generates enough electricity to meet these power requirements, the company said.

Shell displayed the Starship 3.0, which is powered by a Cummins X15N natural gas engine that will run on Shell Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).“Shell Starship 3.0 will feature some of the best-in-class technologies which are leading the way forward in helping decarbonize the heavy transport sector,” said Dr. Selda Gunsel, President of Shell Global Solutions and VP Fuels and Lubricants Technology, Shell.

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