Green Car Journal has been documenting the evolution of light-duty, personal use transportation over the past three decades. A lot has changed over the years, with fuel efficiency now reaching previously-unexpected levels and electric cars achieving surprising momentum. While environmentally friendly vehicle choices have expanded greatly, the same can’t be said of commercial transportation. But there is significant movement in the form of electric trucks and potentially commercial vehicles running on hydrogen.
Today, legacy truck makers and smaller start-ups alike see the imperative to clean up commercial transportation. Chalk it up to increasing government regulation and the recognition that mitigating carbon emissions and climate change must be resolved on all levels. Not to mention, in these days of extraordinarily high fuel prices and petroleum supply volatility there is even greater reason to look toward new and cleaner answers for motor vehicles of all classes. Larger commercial vehicles are now part of the momentum.
Better Electric Trucks
Green Car Journal’s prestigious Green Car Awards™ have been recognizing new vehicle models exhibiting laudable environmental achievement for the past 17 years. Deserving light-duty vehicles were recognized in eight popular categories earlier in the 2022 model year auto show season. Now, it’s time to turn attention to the next frontier: medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks.
While the mind’s eye can conjure images of large diesel trucks emitting plumes of soot from years past, this has been changing for the better through the application of advanced emissions technologies and alternative fuels. Now, there’s movement afoot to remake the image of medium- and heavy-duty trucks through electrification. The result? Silent, zero-carbon, powerful trucks running exclusively on batteries and electric motors, charging up in lieu of fueling with liquid hydrocarbons.
There’s no better example of this than Volvo’s zero-emission VNR Electric, a battery powered model that’s been undergoing trials through the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) program over the past several years, conducted in partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and a dozen other organizations. The result is the new production Volvo VNR Electric, Green Car Journal’s 2022 Commercial Green Truck of the Year™.
The Class 8 Volvo VNR Electric, based on Volvo Trucks’ popular VNR model, aims to provide a sustainable transportation strategy to fill local and regional distribution, pickup, and delivery needs. Power is provided by a 455 horsepower electric motor featuring 4,051 lb-ft peak torque that’s coupled to a two-speed I-Shift automatic transmission. Top speed is 68 mph. It’s available with six-battery pack options that provide up to a 275 mile driving range and comes with fast-charge capability that enables gaining up to 80 percent state-of-charge within 60 to 90 minutes. The VNR Electric is available in five straight truck and tractor configurations.
Product of Excellence Winners
There’s significant competition out there in the evolving field of ‘greener’ commercial trucks with environmental leadership exhibited in many high-profile ways. The following models are standouts being honored with Green Car Journal’s 2022 Green Car Product of Excellence™ award.
Freightliner eCascadia: This Class 8 electric truck is intended for short haul or last-mile delivery, regional deliver, and drayage. It features 500 horsepower and a 250 mile range.
International eMV: An electrified version of International’s proven MV medium-duty truck, the eMV features 215 continuous horsepower, a 135 mile range, and DC fast-charge capability.
Kenworth T680E: Available as a Class 8 tractor or straight truck, the zero-emission T680E features 536 horsepower, 1623 lb-ft torque, and a 150 mile electric driving range.
Lion Electric Lion6: The Lion6 is a Class 6 urban electric truck featuring 335 horsepower, 1800 lb-ft torque, a 252 kWh battery, and a driving range of up to 200 miles.
Mack LR Electric: The next-generation Mack LR Electric is a Class 8 truck aimed at refuse and recycling duty. It has a 376 kWh battery and twin electric motors producing 448 horsepower.
Nikola Tre BEV: Nikola’s Tre BEV is an all-electric Class 8 tractor for regional applications featuring 645 horsepower, a 753 kWh battery pack, and an operating range up to 350 miles.
Peterbilt 579EV: The 579EV is a Class 8 Day Cab configuration intended for short haul and drayage operations. It features 536 electric horsepower, a 396 kWh battery, and 150 mile range.
SEA Hino M5 EV: Sea Electric’s Hino truck-based M5 EV Class 5 electric truck integrates the company’s electric SEA-Drive Power System to provide 110 horsepower and a 200 mile range.