Super Charged: Electric Vehicles in the Modern Supply Chain
Technological advancements have seen the logistics industry flourish. Manual tasks can now be done either online or completely autonomously. These advancements have seen an increase in efficiency across the board which will only continue with ever-growing technological development. One such development that is already influencing the logistics industry is sustainable vehicles.
Sustainable vehicles refer to vehicles like electric vehicles – EVs (that run on electric motors) and hybrid electric vehicles (internal combustion engine and electric propulsions). Some countries in Asia, America and Europe have begun to make the change to electric vehicles so that the transportation of goods is more efficient and sustainable in urban environments. Factors such as government incentives, fluctuating oil prices and a rise in green initiatives has boosted the use of more sustainable vehicles in the logistics sector. Specifically, electric trucks.
BUSINESS GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
The rising demand for electric trucks poses a potential business opportunity for both energy companies and freight forwarders. As the demand for charging stations increases, energy companies can partner with transport providers to supply the needed power to the stations at depots.
It also provides the opportunity to freight forwarding companies to be specialists for the transport of the electric trucks and their batteries. While many countries are making the switch to electric vehicles, the logistics behind the transport of them is tricky.
Electric batteries need to be replaced periodically. However, there are special considerations here as batteries fall under a class 9 dangerous good. Goods that are described as a dangerous good need to be shipped with care, and special training needs to be completed to handle the transport of batteries safely.
More and more companies are making the switch towards electric trucks to meet their environmental goals that align with the Paris Climate Accords. Electric trucks are helping to reduce air pollution from exhaust emissions. Zero exhaust emissions are also better for our health, as better air quality leads to less health problems caused by air pollution. Noise pollution is also reduced in metropolitan areas as EVs are quieter that petrol/diesel transport. EVs also reduce a country’s dependence on another’s for petroleum imports. Less petroleum imported between countries decreases the likelihood for oil tanker spills during transport.
Whilst the benefits to the environment are numerous, one of the biggest contributing factors to the switch towards greener, electric trucks is the cost reduction. While numerous companies are showing a growing consciousness on their impact on the environment, the increased use of electric vehicles in the logistics sector is sped up with the knowledge on how the switch would affect their bottom line. Some of the biggest factors contributing to the switch are fuel cost reduction, maintenance cost reduction, and overall operational cost reduction. Traditional fuel trucks have other associated costs that add up quickly. Such additional costs include:
- oil filters and oil changes
- Engine sludge
- Fuel injector cleaning and fuel filters
- Ignition coils and spark plugs
- Air intake filters, catalytic converter, timing belt, and muffle
All things considered, more and more fleets are moving towards and electric-powered future
Despite the benefits that the use of electric trucks has in the logistics industry, there are some limitations that currently face the industry.
- Less distance travelled
As electric trucks run on a battery that is rechargeable, they can only go so far before they need to be charged again. Currently, electric trucks can travel approx. 250 kms before they need to be recharged, and that itself can range from two hours to nine hours depending on whether the charger is AC or DC. Comparatively, on a full fuel tank, a semi-truck can travel over 3000 kms before needing to refuel. Transport companies need to carefully plan out the journey of each electric truck to effectively make the most of a single charge. As technology develops and more electric trucks are used, charging speeds will be reduced and more recharging hubs will become available, providing faster charging times whilst drivers take a break before they hit the road again.
- Limited charging stations
This brings to light a second limitation, the lack of charging stations in metropolitan areas. As the transition to electric trucks rolls out, charging stations in populated areas are a hard find. Due to population density, many truck depots are located outside these areas, which means they must travel on an already limited distance. Furthermore, the charging stations that do exist, are located near the population dense areas, limiting deliveries to rural areas. As the demand for the use of electric trucks increases due to environmental considerations, more and more charging stations will pop up allowing for a wider reach of these sustainable vehicles.
Electric trucks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and this provides opportunity for road logistics and freight forwarding companies. For those in road transport, making the switch to electric trucks early not only reduces your environmental footprint, but also reduces costs and maximises profits. Getting your foot in the door is vital to building trust with customers and cementing oneself as an expert in electric transport.
If freight forwarders want to cater towards this growing market, they should focus on becoming procedure specialists to open to this profitable niche.