Green Truck Summit and ACT Expo exploring regulatory climate and technology and fuel innovations

For those interested in staying current on phase two of federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for trucks, and the latest in government incentive programs for clean vehicles and fueling infrastructures, two conferences are coming up that will address these and other significant issues. Green Truck Summit, coming up next month in Indianapolis, and ACT Expo, taking place in early May in Long Beach, Calif., provide great opportunities to stay informed and learn more about the latest in advanced clean technologies and fuels best suited to fleet operators and suppliers.

Fleets and transport companies operating medium-duty trucks, delivery trucks and vans, work trucks, heavy-duty trucks, and buses, should consider attending both annual conferences – and should take a look at the latest in alternative fuel vehicle offerings in these vehicle classes. It’s an excellent time to see the latest offerings in vehicles and fueling infrastructure in natural gas, renewable natural gas, propane autogas, renewable diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles, and biofuels.

Stakeholders active in Clean Cities coalitions will be attending in large numbers and can tap into discount offers from both event organizers. For Green Truck Summit, free admission is being offered to NTEA’s Work Truck Show and advance member rates for its Green Truck Summit to Clean Cities coalitions and stakeholders. Here’s the registration form, with a promo code presented by Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition. For ACT Expo 2017, Clean Cities coordinators and stakeholders are eligible to receive discounted registration to attend. Coordinators don’t need a discount code to register, and can access this registration portal to select their Clean Cities option and register.

A panel discussion on the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provision, “Delegated Assembly Provisions in GHG Phase Two – A Potential Game-Changer for Multi-Stage Commercial Vehicles,” will take place at Green Truck Summit 2017 on Tuesday, March 14. Matt Spears, center director, heavy-duty diesel standards, EPA; Rob Stevens, VP strategy and engineering, Roush CleanTech; and Ken McAlinden, manager for on-board diagnostics and regulatory compliance, Ford Motor Co., will speak to the issues.

The Work Truck Show is produced by NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry. It runs March 14–17 at the Indiana Convention Center. Educational sessions begin March 14, and the exhibit hall is open March 15–17. Green Truck Summit general sessions are held March 14, and concurrent educational sessions run March 15–16. In addition to attending March 14 general sessions, Green Truck Summit registrants have the opportunity to choose from Green Truck Summit and NTEA Work Truck Show concurrent sessions on March 15–16.

Dr. Wilfried Achenbach, senior vice president of engineering and technology, Daimler Trucks North America, will give the 2017 Green Truck Summit keynote address. Other topics to be explored include: creating an efficient path to zero-emission commercial vehicles; renewable fuels analysis and vehicle life cycle impacts; government insights and outlook on future policies; and new products and technology applications for fuel use and emissions reduction. Attendees can also participate in the Work Truck Show’s ride and drive event.

Attendees at the year’s ACT Expo look forward to seeing the comprehensive vehicle, fueling, and technology exhibit displays and hearing speakers on a wide range of topics. One of the workshops will provide a forum to explore the North American Council on Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) work encouraging the use of advanced technologies to improve fuel economy for Class-8 tractor trailers. Small group discussions will uncover the benefits and challenges of adopting various technologies, including 6×2 axles, idle reduction devices, electronic engine settings, and automated transmissions.

For those attending ACT Expo 2017, taking place May 1-4 in Long Beach, register by March 31 for the value registration. You can view the agenda here.

Here’s a look at alternative fuel vehicle news and announcements recently made on the eve of these two industry conferences………….

  • Urban eTrucks: Mercedes-Benz Trucks is in talks with 20 potential fleet customers in Europe about bringing its all-electric Urban eTruck to potential customers about participating in a European test project. The 124-mile range Urban eTruck will provide fleets with electric trucks designed for short-range commercial deliveries. The company had earlier committed to bringing about 150 of these trucks, including light-duty Fuso eCanter electric trucks, to customers in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. “Following the world premiere in September 2016 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show the customer reaction was outstanding. We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sector. With the small series we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation,” said Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
  • DME-powered trucks: Mack Trucks has started a field test in partnership with Oberon Fuels and New York City’s sanitation department to bring trucks powered by dimethyl ether (DME) to the fleet. The test will use the clean fuel alternative to diesel in a Class 8 Mack Pinnacle tractor with a 13-liter engine for an evaluation run over several weeks, with results to be published by mid-year. Mack and parent company Volvo Trucks have been very interested in DME in the past few years. This will be first commercial test of a DME-powered Mack truck.
  • Long range electric bus: The Proterra Catalyst E2 vehicle series, named for its efficient energy storage capacity of 440 – 660 kWh, recently logged more than 600 miles on a single charge at the Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds in Mountville, S.C. With a nominal range of 194 – 350 miles, the Catalyst E2 vehicles can now serve challenging transit routes on a single charge. Ryan Popple, CEO of electric bus manufacturer Proterra, thinks that by 2020, one third of new fleet bus purchases will be electric and that number will go up to 100% by 2030.
  • Propane school buses: Roush CleanTech is pleased to see three school bus manufacturers offer propane-powered buses – Blue Bird, IC Bus, and Thomas Built Buses. School districts across the country have purchased the buses. Roush formed a partnership with Ford for a 6.8-liter V10 gasoline engine that it converts into an engine that can run on propane by installing up to 170 of its own components. The company also created a partnership with Blue Bird and ships the engines to the bus manufacturer’s plant in Ft. Valley, Ga. Seeing these major bus makers enter the space “helps to legitimize the technology with the school districts,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for Roush CleanTech. “Instead of taking a year and a half to make to make a sale, it’s taking months.”
  • BYD in the U.S.: Along with building electric buses at its Lancaster, Calif., assembly plant, BYD has been adding several electric commercial trucks to its product offerings. The company’s workforce of 530 people is expected to triple by 2020. Vehicle offerings now include medium-duty step vans; stake-bed, box and refrigerated trucks using BYD’s trucks in the Class 5 through 7 weight segments; Class 6 and Class 8 trash trucks; and Class 8 tractors designed for the short-haul goods movement industry. Class 1 to 4 trucks are in the development phase.
  • Fuel cell buses: The Orange County Transportation Authority in California will gain more than $13 million to add 10 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses to its fleet, OCTA, in partnership with the Center for Transportation and the Environment, will receive most of the grant funds from the California Air Resources Board for the purchase of the buses, a fueling station, and maintenance facility modifications.
  • Toyota’s fuel cell buses: Toyota has delivered the first of its hydrogen fuel cell buses to the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that will run on a regular route starting in March, with a second bus delivery that month. The 76-passenger green bus is the first of an anticipated fleet of 100 fuel cell vehicles being deployed prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Tesla heavy-duty truck: A Daimler executive is working on Tesla’s heavy-duty semi electric truck, but it’s on the backburner behind the Model 3 sedan, according to tweets from CEO Elon Musk. Jerome Guillen was hired by Tesla in 2012 after working for Daimler while playing a leading role in its venture with Freightliner through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SuperTruck initiative. In September, Tesla hired several key Daimler engineers who also worked on the same program, including Evan Chenoweth, who had lead designer of Freightliner’s SuperTruck hybrid engine.
  • Nikola semis: Nikola Motors recently unveiled its prototype Nikola One hydrogen-powered electric semi-truck at its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. By that time, the startup company reported having taken 7,300 pre-orders before the prototype was shown. The company said that the heavy duty Class 8 truck would travel 800 to 1,200 miles while carrying a full load of 65,000 pounds before having to stop at a hydrogen fueling station; and once that happened, refilling time would take just 15 minutes.
  • Self-driving truck: Another startup company is coming into the autonomous trucking space. San Mateo, Calif.-based Embark publicly revealed its prototype self-driving truck on February 24. The company, which gained approval from the State of Nevada earlier this year to begin testing its truck on public roads, said its tractor-trailer setup uses a combination of radars, cameras and Lidar (sensors “to perceive the world around it.”