The mission to decarbonize transportation is well underway. We see this in the expanding field of high-profile electric cars regularly announced by automakers and discussed in the media every day. The unfolding story of personal transportation’s move toward higher efficiency, cleaner fuels, and decreased emissions is an important one that has been well documented by Green Car Journal over the past three decades. But this is just one part of the story. Over the years, we have also witnessed a growing movement toward more environmentally positive trucks and vans for business use, including electric commercial vehicles.
This is important since the movement of goods is an integral part of daily life and a significant contributor to CO2 greenhouse gases. Because of this, the big rigs transporting containers from ports to distribution centers, the trucks bringing food to supermarkets, and the commercial vans delivering packages to our businesses and homes have now become focal points for decarbonization strategies. Zero emission drivetrains have been developed for commercial vehicles of all types. New charging strategies have been devised for their batteries. Advanced technologies popular in personal electric vehicles have also been making their way to a new generation of commercial vehicles.
Electric Commercial Vehicles
As all this is unfolding, it’s important to acknowledge the development and deployment of low- and zero-carbon commercial vehicles that are leading the way, as well as the companies committed to bringing them to our highways. This is the important mission of Green Car Journal’s Green Car Product of Excellence™ program and the Commercial Green Truck of the Year™ award.
The Green Car Product of Excellence™ honors commercial vehicles exhibiting laudable environmental achievement by virtue of higher efficiency, the integration of advanced technologies, and the use of powertrains that operate with low- or no carbon emissions. The Commercial Green Truck of the Year™ winner earns its distinction by rising above its competition as the most important ‘green’ vehicle in its field.
Commercial Green Truck of the Year
Green Car Journal’s 2023 Commercial Green Truck of the Year™ is the Freightliner eM2. A standout amid an impressive field of electric commercial vehicles, the eM2 is an important flag bearer for the Freightliner brand as it further expands its reach into the crucial electrified commercial vehicle field. The electric eM2 is based on Freightliner’s best-selling medium duty M2 model with production taking place at the truck maker’s Portland, Oregon manufacturing facility.
Following the introduction of Freightliner’s eCascadia Class 8 electric truck, the series production eM2 represents a strategic move into the electric medium-duty truck market. Its impressive work capabilities and no compromise zero-emission operation make the Freightliner eM2 an attractive option for pickup and delivery service in crowded urban environments where Class 6/7 commercial trucks do much of their work.
Product of Excellence Winners
The fast pace of the expanding low/no carbon commercial truck field means there are many new and important models that deserve to be honored for their environmental achievement. Green Car Journal recognizes these vehicles with the Green Car Product of Excellence™ award. We feel it’s important to acknowledge the design ingenuity, technical prowess, and environmental commitment exhibited by these award winning commercial vehicles and the companies responsible for bringing them to our highways.
BLUE ARC EV: The Blue Arc walk-in delivery van is aimed at last mile delivery service and other commercial activities. It offers Level 2 and 3 fast charging and an expected range of 150 miles, plus driver assist systems like a 360 degree camera, lane keep assist, and active emergency braking.
BRIGHTDROP ZEVO: A GM business unit on the fast track, BrightDrop offers its Zevo electric delivery vans and an ecosystem built around them including the BrightDrop Core software suite. The Zevo 600 has a 250 mile range, over 600 cubic feet of cargo space, and a 2,200 pound payload rating.
GREENPOWER EV STAR: The EV Star electric cab and chassis has a GVWR rating of 14,300 pounds and can handle payloads up to 5,740 pounds. Its 118 kWh battery pack enables an estimated range of 150 miles. Charging is at 18.2 kw on a Level 2 charger or 50 kW with a DC fast charger.
LION5: Lion Electric’s Lion5 is a new electric truck with crossover class 5/6 capabilities and a gross combined weight rating up to 30,000 pounds. It’s powered by a 315 horsepower electric motor delivering 2,360 lb-ft torque and offers an estimated driving range of up to 200 miles.
MACK MD ELECTRIC: Based on Mack’s popular MD medium-duty truck, the Mack MD Electric is available in Class 6 and Class 7 configurations with GVWR ratings of 25,995 to 33,000 pounds. Two battery choices, 150 kWh or 240 kWh, provide an estimated driving range up to 230 miles.
MULLEN THREE: The electric Mullen THREE Class 3 cab chassis truck features an 11,000 pound GVWR, a payload capacity of 5,802 pounds, and the ability to be fitted with a maximum 14 foot box. It’s powered by a 160 horsepower electric motor and features an estimated 130 mile range.
RIZON e16M/e16L/e18L: A new brand from Daimler Truck Group, Rizon comes in three variations, the e16M, e16L, and e18L Class 4 and 5 medium-duty battery-electric trucks. They offer 15,995 to 17,995 pound gross vehicle weight ratings and have a range of up to 160 miles.
TESLA SEMI: This electric Class 8 big rig from Tesla is true to the company’s form with innovative design, a projected 500 mile driving range, and notable (for a semi) 0-60 acceleration in 20 seconds with its three electric motors.
VIA MOTORS VTRUX: The VTRUX is a Class 3 electric work truck and chassis that can handle up to 6,657 pounds of payload. It’s available with a number of battery pack choices that are said to offer a driving range of 70 to 250 miles on a charge.
WORKHORSE W56: Available in various configurations, the Workhorse W56 Class 5 and Class 6 electric step vans from Workhorse Group offer a payload capability of up to 10,000 pounds and a driving range estimated at up to 150 miles.