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  • TRC Companies

State of Sustainable Fleets: Industry rises to meet peak complexity with innovation, investment


Now in its fifth year, the State of Sustainable Fleets 2024 Market Brief, released May 20, sheds light on an industry meeting the moment of an active transition. A slew of new emissions regulations that were adopted in the past two years combined with the growing pains of new technology spotlight a period of peak complexity for fleet operators. Brief author and leading clean-technology consulting firm TRC Companies, having acquired the entity formerly known as Gladstein, Neandross & Associates LLC, unveiled the latest findings at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo, the largest commercial transportation conference, hosted this year in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

“The last two years of decisive new emissions regulations and the complexity that come with adopting any new technology, let alone multiple new clean technologies, compounds confusion for fleets,” said Nate Springer, TRC’s vice president of market development. “It is exciting to see the numerous new partnerships, investments and innovations that industry and government are forging to put sustainable solutions into the hands of fleets today while laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s ever greater adoption of clean technologies.” 

 

The previous year continued a record flow of $32 billion in state and federal funds available to fleets while supplies of renewable diesel and renewable natural gas reached new highs to deliver solutions for fleets today. A vanguard of new utility-fleet partnerships, depot and leasing business models, and technologies to utilize existing natural-gas supplies, revealed an oncoming host of innovations to solve the charging challenge.  

 

“Fleets today are faced with a myriad of challenges in their continual pursuit of reducing the environmental impact of their operations,” stated Drew Cullen, Penske’s senior vice president of fuels and facility services. “The complexity of options, investment requirements and the promise of continued technology improvements only adds to fleet planning uncertainty. The 2024 State of Sustainable Fleets report is a tremendous resource for fleets to evaluate the range of options available and under development as they advance their strategy to meet and exceed sustainability goals.” 

 

As zero-emission regulations take hold in 11 states and a new emission-standard deadline for model year 2027 looms nationally, fleets struggle to comply with a confusing new regulatory landscape. For fleets trying to deploy zero-emission technologies to meet some of these or their own goals, charging infrastructure gaps, consistently high battery and production costs and power-capacity constraints resulted in project delays in 2023, all of which are expected to persist for several years. 

 

“At Volvo Trucks, we are committed to providing total transportation solutions with an electromobility ecosystem of support for our customers who choose the VNR Electric, the class-leading zero-emissions truck in the market,” said Keith Brandis, Volvo Group North America’s vice president of partnerships and system solutions. “We are also working on developing future technologies such as fuel-cell electric vehicles and improving the efficiency of the internal-combustion engine running on renewable diesel and hydrogen. Through partnership and industry collaboration, we can make a quantum leap forward in sustainable transportation.”

 

Andy Walz, president of Chevron Americas Products, added, “Our goal is to reduce carbon across the future energy economy. To do that, we need to keep innovating and looking for viable, lower-cost solutions. Economics matter and we need many different solutions, evaluated on their lifecycle-carbon intensity. Policy support should drive toward reducing carbon intensity, following a technology-agnostic approach.” 

 

This year’s brief offers clarity for the industry on developments in the markets for renewable fuels and electricity paired with diesel, near-zero and zero-emission vehicles with the following key findings:  

 

  • Among fleets using efficiency technology and practices in the annual survey, 63 percent expect diminishing returns on new investments of this type going forward. 


  • Renewable diesel consumption increased by 68 percent in 2023 compared to 2022, with most consumption occurring where favorable carbon-credit markets ensured price parity with diesel.  


  • The price of the highest blend of biodiesel commonly used, B20, dropped 9 percent to $3.25 per diesel-gallon equivalent (DGE). 


  • Retail price of compressed natural gas (CNG) averaged 50 percent less expensive than diesel in 2023 at $3.04/DGE. 


  • Fleets using CNG met 70 percent of their fueling needs with renewable natural gas (RNG) on average in the annual State of Sustainable Fleets fleet survey.  


  • RNG producers opened more than 150 new facilities while maintaining a queue of at least 300 projects in 2023.  


  • The carbon intensity of RNG on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard market improved 21 percent between 2022 and the first three quarters of 2023. 


  • Production of a lighter and stronger 15-liter natural-gas engine begins in 2024, expected to open opportunities for many more fleets and lead significant growth in natural-gas vehicle sales. 


  • Natural gas-fueled linear generators began operations to charge battery-electric Class 8 trucks. 


  • Battery-electric vehicle (BEV) adoption surged as more than 26,000 buses, trucks and vans were delivered in 2023, doubling the number of BEV deliveries made in 2022.  


  • Commercial cargo vans and pickup trucks made up for 90 percent of all BEV deliveries in 2023, 95 percent of which were dominated by two manufacturers—Ford and Rivian. 


  • BEVs account for only 1 percent to 2 percent of all vehicles in the fleets of early adopters in the annual survey, though 90 percent of users of this technology expect their use to increase. 


  • Multiple fleet-dedicated charging depots opened or were in construction in 2023 while numerous providers of leasing and “as a service” vehicle and charging services were announced. 


  • The U.S. DOE’s historic allocation of $7 billion will fund seven proposed hydrogen-fuel production and distribution hubs spanning 16 states. 


  • The average retail price of hydrogen in 2023 nearly doubled from mid-2022 levels to as much as $36 a kilogram in California. 


  • The price of propane autogas averaged $1.71 per gasoline-gallon equivalent for private retail, the most common fueling approach among fleets, compared to $3.58 per gallon of gasoline at public stations. 

 

Penske Transportation Solutions, Volvo Trucks North America and Chevron serve as title sponsors of the 2024 Market Brief.

 

Dana, Exelon and S&P Global Mobility serve as supporting sponsors.

 

All sponsors provide credibility and expertise across numerous technologies covered in the assessment.  

 

To read the complete 2024 Market Brief and to receive ongoing updates and analysis from State of Sustainable Fleets, visit www.StateofSustainableFleets.com.  

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