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November 29, 2023
Thought leadership

Could drayage hold the key to wider EV adoption in logistics?

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Under new regulations outlined by the Biden administration, a quarter of new heavy trucks sold in the United States must be all-electric by 2032 (the figure currently stands at just 2%). 

The transition to EV in the commercial sector will take time, sustained effort and coordination among multiple stakeholders. But introducing electrification via certain entry points can promote wider EV adoption in this carbon footprint heavy industry. Drayage is one such area. Drayage is the transport of shipping containers over short distances, typically from the ship to a warehouse or other terminal. 

Regulatory changes are already mandating that drayage transition to zero-emission trucks in states like California. Here are a few key impact areas in drayage that will prove that EVs make business and environmental sense fleet-wide: 

  • Operations: Drayage routes are short, making them an ideal testing ground for electrification. Interstate logistics operations with longer routes and are still reliant on charging infrastructure to improve across the country. But drayage doesn’t have this problem: drayage trucks typically operate within relatively short distances, shuttling cargo containers between home bases, ports, and warehouses, generally within a confined geographical area. Charging infrastructure can be easily located on-site at the home base. This easy entry allows fleet operators to begin designing a framework for charging on routes, and reduce the unpredictability of fleet electrification. 

  • Environment and health: Even though heavy-duty vehicles such as those used for drayage make up just 7% of all registered vehicles in California, they contribute up to 80% of some of the most harmful air pollutants. Since drayage routes tend to run through highly populated and lower-income areas, disadvantaged communities are particularly exposed to air pollution from these vehicles. 

A recent study found that 483 premature deaths and 15,468 asthma attacks could be attributed to heavy-duty drayage trucks in 2012 in Southern California alone. The study suggested that electrifying Southern California’s drayage routes could prevent hundreds of premature deaths a year. Imagine the number of lives that could be saved if fleets across the entire country made the switch to EV.

But challenges remain…

Even though EVs save companies money in the long run, fleet operators still have concerns. One area of hesitation is the cost of charging large fleets of heavy-duty vehicles. Power companies are increasingly charging different rates depending on if electricity is drawn from the grid during peak or off-peak demand hours, also known as time-of-use (TOU) tariffs. What time of day qualifies as on/off-peak varies by state and energy provider. Without careful planning, operators may find themselves charging many of their vehicles during the most expensive times, which could more than triple the cost of charging each vehicle. For large fleets, not optimizing the charging schedule could be extremely costly. 

Not to mention, there are concerns that a surge in the number of heavy-duty EVs could place unprecedented strain on the grid. Reducing demand within these fleets can enhance grid reliability and simultaneously cut expenses by sidestepping the need to build and maintain costly power plants and other infrastructure required to meet peak demand.

That’s where Synop steps in.

Synop, a charging and energy management software platform for commercial EVs, is committed to helping fleets manage the transition to zero-emission vehicles. The platform empowers fleet operators to optimize charging according to both their unique operational requirements and the demands of the grid. 

Synop provides real-time insights into grid demand and pricing, as well as charge across the entire fleet. Through the platform, fleet operators can select specific times and speeds to charge vehicles to reduce electricity costs and alleviate pressure on the grid. Alternatively, our advanced energy management service helps them automate the entire process. Our software facilitates seamless subscription management for charging hubs, whether it involves public charging infrastructure or coordination with third-party providers, making it easier for charging operators to handle and optimize their services.

To help our customers generate additional revenue and lower their overall total cost of ownership (TCO), Synop has integrated with utility programs to leverage curtailment and demand response through V2G. Similarly we enable fleet operators to effectively report on emissions targets and facilitate the generation of Clean Fuel credits, such as Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

Drayage electrification could be the critical step the supply chain needs to pave the way towards greater sustainability across the sector — and solutions like Synop's charging management software can accelerate and optimize this process. As regulatory changes loom and the world demands sustainable solutions, drayage offers a gateway to a greener future in logistics.

Is your drayage fleet or commercial fleet transitioning to EVs? Click here to book a demo!

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