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PMTA Member company testifies before Congress on Electrification Concerns

PMTA Member company testifies before Congress on Electrification Concerns

The Vice President of PMTA member company, PITT OHIO, testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Tuesday regarding concerns about electrification in the trucking industry. 

Vice President of Vehicle Maintenance and Fleet Service at PITT OHIO, Taki Darakos, spoke at a hearing called "It's Electric: A review of Fleet Electrification Efforts on behalf of the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

Darakos pointed to new emission regulations implemented by the State of California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), like the recently finalized Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Phase 3 regulation. 

He said, successful regulations need to be technology-neutral and cannot be one-size-fits-all. 

"ATA opposes the new GHG Phase 3 rule because the post-2030 targets are unachievable given the current state of zero-emission technology, the lack of charging infrastructure, and restrictions on the power grid," Darakos said. 

Darakos oversees PITT OHIO's vehicle specifications, acquisitions and maintenance support for the company's 25 terminals in 14 states. The company employs more than 3,500 people. He said he is sees day to day the importance of the  trucking industry, saying trucks move over 70% of the nation's freight tonnage, a number that's only expected to increase over the next decade. 

Darakos talked about the steps PITT OHIO has already taken to operate cleaner and reduce CO2 emissions. 

"Trucking began phasing out harmful sulfur from diesel fuel in 2006, practically eliminating sulfur oxide emissions," he said. "Trucking is a willing partner in finding a path towards a zero emissions future."

But, he shared examples of why mandated electric vehicles are not a viable solution to that goal. 

Darakos said, "We continue to encounter challenges related to costs, vehicle range, durability, and charging infrastructure that complicate broader deployment of heavy-duty battery-electric trucks."

"Before incentives, a Class 7/8 battery electric truck can cost two to three-and-a-half times more than its comparable diesel model and a hydrogen fuel cell Class 8 truck can be as much as seven times more. In our fleet, we have found acquisition costs to be roughly three-fifths of the total cost of operation."

He pointed to a study conducted by Roland Bergen, published by the Clean Freight Coalition Despite. The study examined the required investment to fully electrify the trucking industry by 2040. It found, fleets would be expected to invest $620 billion for charging infrastructure, with utilities needing an additional $370 billion for grid upgrades. 

"These costs represent an unsustainable financial burden on trucking fleets to facilitate this technological transition," Darakos said. 

He also referenced American Transportation Research Institute data, which reports electrification of the entire U.S. vehicle fleet would consume 40% of the country’s existing electricity generation and require a 14% overall increase in energy generation. 

"Yet our aging grid can hardly meet current demands," Darakos said. "In California, where rolling blackouts and brownouts are not uncommon, utilities would need to generate an additional 57% beyond their current output to support an electric vehicle fleet."

He also said the infrastructure is not there to support the charging of electric trucks along their routes.

"For me to deploy more battery-electric or alternative fuel vehicles, it would require certainty that the infrastructure to support that investment is affordable, available, and compatible with my purchase."

Darakos said the trucking industry is looking toward a cleaner future, and sees hydrogen and sustainable liquid fuels as positive alternatives that offer advantages in energy density, refueling times and compatibility with current engine configurations. 

To read Darakos's full testimony, click here:

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