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ARB sees beginning of market penetration of battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released its draft technology assessment of medium- and heavy-duty battery-electric trucks and buses. The draft assessment identifies the status of battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technology that can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emissions from Class 2b through Class 8 vehicles (gross vehicle weight of 8,501 pounds and up).

Overall, the assessment finds that BEVs are beginning to penetrate the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle markets. Battery electric transit buses are increasingly available from a variety of manufacturers and some school buses are commercially available. Battery electric shuttle buses are also increasingly available, as are other medium-duty BEVs, primarily delivery vehicles. Currently, BEVS in the marketplace typically use lithium-ion battery chemistries. Class 8 heavy-duty trucks remain a significant challenge, according to the report.

Summary of BEV Deployments and Technology Readiness Levels
Vehicle Type Tech Readiness Number in Service Notes
Transit Bus Commercially available ~40 in California
>2,500 worldwide
3 models commercially available in US
School Bus Limited commercial availability 4 in California 3 new buses ordered in SCAQMD
6 repowers underway with V2G
(8,501 to 14,000 lbs GVWR)
Limited commercial availability 300+ Focused on delivery service
(>14,001 lbs GVWR)
Demo phase 2 Drayage
1 Refuse
13 Class-8 trucks under construction

The report suggests that BEV technologies will find additional vocations in the medium-duty (8,501 to 14,000 lbs. GVWR) market with continued penetration for delivery vehicles and shuttle buses. Battery electric transit buses will continue to increase their market share.

Heavy-duty (>14,000 lbs. GVWR) BEVs are currently being demonstrated in several vocations, such as drayage trucking service and refuse collection trucks. ARB staff anticipates that the number of electric drayage trucks will increase due to several on-going demonstrations of this technology with funding from the CEC, SCAQMD, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Further, ARB’s own $25-million allocation to zero-emission drayage truck demonstrations as part of the AQIP and low carbon transportation Fiscal Year 2014-15 Funding Plan approved by ARB in June 2014 will greatly expand the number of zero-emission BEV drayage trucks. Further, heavy-duty short- and regional-haul trucks may see electrification building off the current BEV drayage truck demonstrations as may other delivery vehicle classes.

Primary barriers to market acceptance are battery cost and power density, highlighting a major issue restricting the applicability of BEVs in many vocations: limitations on vehicle range.

Battery cost is a major component in the overall cost of BEVs, with system costs currently in the $500 to $700 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) range—substantially more than the cost for a conventional diesel powerplant.

In a 2013 I-710 commercialization study, CALSTART estimated the cost of a 350 kWh battery system at more than $200,000 in 2012, with costs coming down to $111,000 by 2020 and $70,000 by 2030.


Further, the report notes, standardization of vehicle charging connectors, charging protocols and more widespread deployment of vehicle charging stations suitable for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks and buses would allow BEVs to universally charge while away from their home base, increasing daily range and potentially allowing for smaller battery packs, reducing overall BEV costs and reducing the return on investment timeframe.

The report suggests that government, academia and industry can take a number of actions to support the deployment of battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including:

  1. Improving vehicle range;

  2. Reducing the incremental cost;

  3. Improving non-battery components;

  4. Standardizing charging;

  5. Running more demo projects;

  6. Improving and continuing incentives; and

  7. More regulatory activity, ch as Advanced Transit and Last Mile Delivery regulations, and the development and adoption of other regulations.

ARB staff will provide an informational update to the Board on this draft technology assessment, along with the draft technology assessments for fuel cell and hybrid heavy-duty vehicles, at the 19 November 2015, Board meeting in Sacramento.


Great news! Fleets are already money ahead today when huge fuel savings cost over lifetime and tax credits are considered.


One of the best implementations of BEVs is a bus and more cities are catching on.

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