Electric Cars? What About Trucks and Buses?

Last updated on by

With all the hype about electric cars like the Fisker, the Leaf and the Volt, very little attention is being paid to the possibility of greening up heavy vehicles like trucks and buses. This is ironic, because heavy vehicles are, in some ways, a better fit for hybrid and electric technology.

This is one of the lessons learned from a panel on clean transportation at the recent Cleantech Open conference. The panelists discussed one of the main impediments to consumer adoption of electric cars: range anxiety, or the fear of your battery running down before you’ve reached your destination. Buses, trucks and tractors don’t really face this problem, since they generally have fairly limited ranges anyway. The panelists noted that the owners of city buses, or delivery trucks, usually know exactly how many miles they drive each day. As long as the battery range of an electric vehicle is greater than the length of a bus route, it could make sense to go electric. Long haul buses and trucks are a different matter, of course.

Two of the panelists were employees at Proterra, which makes electric drive trains for buses and trucks, so of course they were supporters of going electric, but other companies are on the heavy vehicle bandwagon. Even as iconic a diesel tractor producer as Caterpillar has produced a hybrid version of its D7 earth mover. John Deere has a hybrid lawn mower aimed at golf courses. In San Francisco, the city bus system has rolled out hybrid buses from Daimler, which has thus far sold over 3,000 hybrid buses in North America.

Related Posts (also from the Cleantech Open Conference):

“Data Can Make Us Greener”

“Key to Green Buildings: Location”