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Electric Vehicles: Freight, Buses and Fleets

Freight, Buses and Fleets

National Research and Guidance

Spatial and Temporal Analysis of the Total Cost of Ownership for Class 8 Tractors and Class 4 Parcel Delivery Trucks, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), September 2021.

Researchers conducted a rigorous techno-economic analysis of multiple alternative powertrain vehicles within the same analytic framework. Specifically, this report evaluates the total cost of ownership (TCO) of six different truck powertrain technologies (diesel, diesel hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, battery electric, and fuel cell electric) for three different truck vocations (Class 8 long-haul, Class 8 short-haul, and Class 4 parcel delivery) over three time frames. The TCO framework includes direct costs (purchase price, fuel, operating and maintenance, driver wages and benefits, insurance, tire replacements, permits, and tolls) and indirect costs (dwell time costs due to refueling/recharging and lost payload capacity costs from heavier advanced vehicle powertrains). 

► "Breakthrough Analysis Finds Electrified Heavy-Duty Vehicle Powertrains Could Provide Lower Total Cost of Ownership," news release, NREL, September 2021.

R&D Insights for Extreme Fast Charging of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Insights from the NREL Commercial Vehicles and Extreme Fast Charging Research Needs Workshop, August 27–28, 2019, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, March 2020.

This report summarizes findings from an NREL workshop on extreme fast charging for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The workshop featured U.S. DOE and NREL personnel as well as over 40 representatives from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), commercial fleets, technology developers, utilities, infrastructure developers and consultants. Attendees participated in two panel discussions (organized around “OEMs and Fleets” and “Infrastructure and Utilities”) and six breakout sessions to discuss the current state of extreme fast charging, identify common barriers to widespread implementation, and suggest research and development needs that might be addressed with the help of DOE and national laboratory resources.

Clean Freight Corridors Toolkit, FHWA, 2016.

As part of FHWA's Alternative Fuel Toolkit, this resource includes a clean freight corridor planning template that provides guidance for states looking to incorporate alternative fuel and clean corridor concepts into their state freight plans. The toolkit also includes a resource library and conference presentation slides that provide multiple agencies' perspectives and experiences. 

► Effective Interagency Collaboration: A Case Study of the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, 2017.

Regional Initiatives

"NESCAUM Welcomes Nevada's Participation in the Multi-State Zero-Emission Electric Trucks Initiative," news release, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), March 2022.

Sixteen states, the District of Columbia and the Canadian Province of Quebec have committed to work collaboratively through the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle (MHD ZEV) initiative’s task force, facilitated by NESCAUM, to develop an action plan for the rapid electrification of trucks and buses. 

State Research and Guidance


Program updates:

Advanced Clean Trucks, California Air Resources Board (CARB).

This regulation is part of CARB's efforts to accelerate a large-scale transition to zero-emission medium-and heavy-duty vehicles from Class 2b to Class 8 in California. The regulation has two components: a manufacturer sales requirement and a reporting requirement for companies and fleets.

Fact sheet, August 2021. 

California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP), California Air Resources Board.

This statewide incentive program aims to make hybrid and zero-emission commercial vehicles more affordable for fleets through point-of-purchase price reductions.

Truck Choice Modeling: Understanding California's Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicle Trucks Taking into Account Truck Technologies, Costs and Fleet Decision Behavior, Caltrans, November 2017.

This study presents sustainable freight data and a truck purchase decision choice model to better understand how California’s fleets will transition to low-carbon technologies and fuels, especially zero-emission technologies such as electric and fuel cell trucks. Researchers developed data comparing vehicle/technology performance, vehicle capital and operating costs, mileage and performance requirements, and other important purchase decision factors for different types of trucks and fleets. The project also developed a discrete choice model for alternative-fuel trucks to assess the impacts of various attributes on fleet purchase decisions.


Colorado Medium- and Heavy-Duty (M/HD) Vehicle Study, Colorado Department of Energy and Colorado Department of Transportation, September 2021.

This report summarizes the results of several activities undertaken to assist Colorado state agencies in developing an effective strategy toward a zero-emission M/HD vehicle sector. The work includes (1) developing a national- and state-level landscape assessment of the M/HD vehicle sector, (2) conducting a Colorado-specific fleet fuel and emissions analysis, (3) collecting perspectives and ideas from stakeholders to further facilitate the transition, (4) identifying and evaluating available policy levers and key implementation considerations that the state should evaluate when developing a detailed zero-emission M/HD vehicle strategy, and (5) conducting a cost-benefit analysis for selected strategic policies to determine the potential benefits to society and impacts on electric utility rates that the state of Colorado could experience.


Ohio Freight Electrification, Drive Ohio and Ohio Department of Transportation, August 2021.

This report examines electrification potential in Ohio for four types of freight vehicles: terminal and off-road; last-mile delivery; local freight and drayage; and regional and long-haul.

Related resource: Electric Vehicle Charging Study, Drive Ohio and Ohio Department of Transportation, June 2020.


Research in Progress

The Current and Future Performance and Costs of Battery Electric Trucks, white paper, National Center for Sustainable Transportation, start date: October 2020; expected completion date: December 2021.

This white paper will review the key literature regarding the viability, performance and cost of battery electric trucks (BETs), including estimates of key attributes (vehicle price, weight, payload, range, and operating and energy costs) for trucks operating in a range of applications.  Researchers will attempt to understand the reason for differences in past estimates and resolve them, and undertake sensitivity analysis and a final robust analysis with conclusions about the best applications of BETs (and those that are less viable). The research team will consider a range of truck types and both near-term and long-term sets of estimates. 

Routing of Battery Electric Heavy-Duty Trucks for Drayage Operations, Caltrans, start date: October 2021; expected completion date: December 2022. 

Researchers are using optimization and simulation modeling to explore the impacts of using battery electric heavy-duty trucks in drayage services—short-haul pickup and delivery of goods to and from ports, warehouse and distribution centers, and intermodal facilities. The researchers will study scenarios with different mixtures of diesel and battery electric heavy-duty trucks, computing the minimum fleet size to meet the demand and the resulting emissions for each scenario.

Innovative EV Deployment Strategies: Understanding Electric Vehicle Activity Patterns to Optimize Charging for LDV, MDV and HDV, National Center for Sustainable Transportation, start date: October 2021; expected completion date: June 2022.

This project aims to develop new EV charging strategies that are focused on minimizing carbon emissions while addressing other performance metrics. Researchers will model activity and charging patterns of light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty electric vehicles. With the current target of 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035 in California, this project will address smart and innovative solutions not only to charge these vehicles, but to also optimize vehicle schedules and routes.


Guidebook for Deploying Zero-Emission Transit Buses, Transit Cooperative Research Program, 2021.

This guidebook provides public transit agencies with best practices, case studies, and lessons learned from previous deployments of battery electric buses, fuel cell electric buses, and related fueling infrastructure. The guidebook provides a snapshot of current planning practices and deployment approaches, with chapters addressing 10 phases of deployment.


Electrifying Transit: A Guidebook for Implementing Battery Electric Buses, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, April 2021.

This guidebook describes the decisions and considerations required for successful battery electric bus (BEB) implementation, including benefits and barriers to deployment. Topics include charging station design; the relationship between charging infrastructure, the electric grid, and the utilities responsible for the grid; BEB operation and maintenance; costs, funding and financing mechanisms; and safety concerns and standards.


National Park Service Bus Electrification Study: 2020 Report, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), U.S. Department of Energy, February 2021.

This report discusses the results of demonstration deployments of battery electric buses (BEBs) at Yosemite, Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks. The NREL collected in-use data on demonstration BEBs at all three parks and conducted real-world performance evaluations of BEBs compared to conventional internal combustion engine buses and hybrid electric buses operating in the National Park Service fleet. Results from this project will help the National Park Service choose appropriate locations for future BEB deployments.

Transit Vehicle Innovation Deployment Centers (TVIDC) Advisory Panel Overview and Conclusions, Federal Transit Administration, January 2021.

This report summarizes the activities and recommendations of the Transit Vehicle Innovation Deployment Centers program, which was funded by the Federal Transit Administration to research the advancement, production and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies and infrastructure within the public transportation sector.


Financial Analysis of Battery Electric Transit Buses, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, June 2020.

Researchers used the Vehicle and Infrastructure Cash-Flow Evaluation for Battery Electric Buses (VICE-BEB) model to compare the lifetime cost-effectiveness of battery electric buses (BEBs) and traditional diesel buses. This model determines the net present value and the payback period for investment in BEBs and charging infrastructure. Numerous economic analyses have been done for specific fleets, but this analysis strives to help all transit bus fleets determine if BEBs would be cost-effective based on variations in key parameters.

Analysis of Electric Bus Deployments at Transit Agencies, Texas Department of Transportation, May 2020. 

As part of a Texas DOT project analyzing deployment of electric school buses, this technical memorandum summarizes transit agency experiences with the purchase, operation and support of electric buses. While electric buses have better fuel economy than buses fueled by other sources, they have reduced range, and researchers note that transit agencies must be proactive in planning when charging will be needed. In addition, while electricity prices are generally lower than other fuel costs, transit agencies should be mindful of higher demand charges for charging during peak periods.

Battery Electric Buses — State of the Practice, Transit Cooperative Research Program, 2018.

This synthesis report documents current practices of transit systems in the planning, procurement, infrastructure installation, operation and maintenance of battery electric buses. The synthesis includes a literature review and detailed survey responses from 18 transit agencies as well as detailed case examples from five different systems. The case examples provide additional insights into the state of the practice, including lessons learned, challenges and gaps in information. 


Strategic Planning and Design for Electric Bus Systems, Mountain-Plains Consortium, July 2018.

This research introduces a spatiotemporal optimization model to help transit agencies identify optimal deployment strategies for battery electric buses. Optimizing deployment of BEBs can minimize the costs associated with vehicle procurement and charging station allocation while satisfying transit operation constraints such as maintaining existing bus operation routes and schedules. The proposed method is demonstrated using the Utah Transit Authority network. 



Literature Review and Industry Scan of Electric School Buses, Texas Department of Transportation, May 2020. 

Designed to help school districts research or implement electric school buses, this report discusses the considerations involved in electric school bus deployment, including an inventory of current deployments and a summary of anticipated electric bus programs.



Webinar: School Bus Electrification, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), June 2021.

During a meeting of NARUC's EV State Working Group, speakers from the World Resources Institute, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and Montgomery County Public Schools discussed national, regional and local efforts to electrify school bus fleets.

Presentation slides
Webinar recording

National Resources

Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool 2020, U.S. Department of Energy, updated April 2021.

This tool allows stakeholders to estimate the cost of ownership and environmental impacts of light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles using simple spreadsheet inputs.

AFV Adoption in Fleets Toolkit, Alternative Fuel Toolkit, FHWA and Oregon Department of Transportation, 2016.

This toolkit includes a resource library, state DOT fleet overviews, fact sheets and workshop materials on using alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) in state and local transportation fleets.

Case Studies: Making an All-American Public Fleet 

State Resources


Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation, fact sheet, California Air Resources Board, June 2022.

This fact sheet summarizes California's draft Advanced Clean Fleets regulation, which is part of a broader strategy to deploy medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) wherever feasible in the state.

► Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleet, California Air Resources Board. 

► Governor's Letter Regarding Zero-Emission Fleet Rules, California Air Resources Board, August 2018.

Research in Progress: Integrating Zero Emission Vehicles into the Caltrans Fleet, Caltrans, start date: January 2019; expected completion date: September 2021.

This study will assess how to maximize Caltrans’ use of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in its light-duty vehicle fleet. The study will address both procurement criteria for ZEVs and placement of new fueling stations to obtain the maximum benefit.


Philadelphia’s Municipal Clean Fleet Plan, City of Philadelphia, October 2021.

This plan lays out a strategy to transition the city’s fleet to clean and electric vehicles, providing guidance and recommendations to ensure that the city’s fleet transition is cost-effective and results in tangible outcomes.





Electrification Assessment of Public Vehicles in Washington, Washington Joint Transportation Committee, November 2020.

This report assesses the potential of accelerating the conversion of Washington’s public fleets to electric vehicles. It provides state decision-makers with comprehensive, vehicle-specific cost estimates and actionable information on how to efficiently move forward with fleet electrification. 


Cost Analysis Tools

Vehicle and Infrastructure Cash-Flow Evaluation (VICE) Model: Battery Electric Buses, Alternative Fuels Data Center, U.S. Department of Energy.

Battery-Electric Truck and Bus Charging Cost Calculator, California Air Resources Board, updated December 2018.

Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool 2020, U.S. Department of Energy, updated April 2021. 

Webinar: Heavy-Duty Truck Charging

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, May 2021.

► Presentation slides

Additional Resources