Electric trucks are here, and interest is running high among fleet operators. But one thing's been holding the trucks back: the lack of a charging infrastructure.
While operators of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles have access to a nationwide network of filling stations, drivers of electric trucks have limited options for charging their batteries—a deficit that effectively limits their use to short-haul routes or freight yard and drayage applications.
Penske Truck Leasing is now working to end this inequity. The vehicle rental giant recently announced that it had opened commercial heavy-duty electric-vehicle charging stations at four of its facilities in Southern California. Penske says it believes these are the first direct-current (DC) fast-charging stations in the U.S. designed specifically for heavy-duty commercial electric vehicles.
The company has installed 14 of the high-speed chargers to date and says it plans to add at least six more, bringing the total to 20. The high-speed chargers are currently available at Penske facilities in San Diego, Chino, Anaheim, and La Mirada.
Of course, "high-speed" is a relative term here, since charging an electric truck still takes much longer than filling a tank with gas or diesel. Penske's charging stations use 50 kW to 150 kW chargers, which can power an all-electric class 8 tractor from zero to 100 percent charge in "less than half a shift," the company says.