Seriously, Here Come the Electric SuperTrucks

The Biden Administration's Department of Energy is getting serious about electrifed heavy-duty trucks for long-haul cargo transport as well as medium-duty trucks for local deliveries.

The latest evolution of the DOE's SuperTruck program, Supertruck 3, will spend US$199 million to fund 25 projects aimed at putting cleaner cars and trucks on America’s roads, including long-haul trucks powered by batteries and fuel cells, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced in New York on November 1.

Of that funding, $127 million will go to five heavy vehicle manufacturers to pioneer electrified trucks and freight system concepts to achieve higher efficiency and zero emissions.

Projects will be funded over five years, and recipients will match federal funding, dollar-for-dollar, assuming that Congress makes these appropriations.

The five selected projects cover a wide range of technologies as the trucking world shifts from diesel and gasoline to electricity.

  • PACCAR Inc, of Bellevue, Washington, will develop 18 Class-8 battery electric and fuel cell vehicles with advanced batteries. This class includes tractor-trailer tractors, single-unit dump trucks, and some fire trucks. PACCAR is a global technology company that designs and manufactures light, medium and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. A megawatt charging station will also be developed and demonstrated. (Award amount: $32,971,041)
  • Volvo Group North America, LLC of Greensboro, North Carolina, will develop a 400 mile (647 km) range Class-8 battery electric tractor-trailer with advanced aerodynamics, electric braking, EV optimized tires, automation and route planning. A megawatt charging station will be developed and demonstrated. (Award amount: $18,070,333)
  • Daimler Trucks North America, LLC of Portland, Oregon will develop and demonstrate two 2 Class-8 fuel cell trucks with 600 mile (965 km) range, 25,000-hour durability, equivalent payload capacity and range to diesel. (Award amount: $25,791,669)
  • Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan will develop and demonstrate five hydrogen fuel cell electric Class-6 Super Duty trucks targeting cost, payload, towing, and refueling times that are equivalent to conventional gasoline trucks. This class covers medium-duty commercial trucks, single-axle and beverage trucks, along with rack trucks and school buses. (Award amount: $24,952,314)
  • General Motors, LLC of Pontiac, Michigan will develop and demonstrate four hydrogen fuel cell and four battery electric Class 4-6 trucks. The project will also focus on development of clean hydrogen via electrolysis and clean power for fast charging. These are medium duty trucks that can be used in construction and can be fitted with: pickup beds, service bodies, dump bodies, and others. (Award amount: $26,061,726)

"Any comprehensive effort to tackle the climate crisis must include strategies to reduce pollution from the transportation sector," said U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, where Daimler Trucks North America is located.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy initially launched the SuperTruck initiative under President Barack Obama in 2009, with the goal of improving heavy-duty truck freight efficiency by 50 percent. Obama's follow-up SuperTruck 2 in 2016 sought to double vehicle efficiency for Class 8 long-haul trucks.

IF WE ARE SERIOUS ABOUT COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE, KEEPING GOOD-PAYING JOBS HERE AT HOME, AND BOOSTING THE AMERICAN SUPPLY CHAIN, WE NEED STRONG FEDERAL POLICIES AND STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE.

Debbie Dingell

U.S. Representative of Michigan where both Ford and General Motors are based