Terex Utilities recently introduced the industry’s first all-electric bucket truck at the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. In addition, the company has also announced the first nine customers who will receive these new Terex Optima 55-foot aerial devices, powered by the HyPower SmartPTO by Viatec and mounted on an International Class 6/7 medium-duty electric chassis.
“Xcel Energy, which provides power to millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states, will take delivery of the first unit later this month,” said Joe Caywood, director of marketing and product management.
Nine utilities of all sizes, representing investor-owned and municipal utilities from across the U.S. and Canada, made early commitments with orders prior to EUFMC. The first 10 units will be delivered in 2022. The other utilities receiving units are Oncor Electric Co.; Central Hudson Gas & Electric; CenterPoint Energy; PNM Resources; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Con Edison; San Diego Gas & Electric; and SaskPower. www.terex.com/utilities/en/products/terex-green-solutions/terex-ev
DECKED has revealed CargoGlide, a heavy-duty sliding bed platform that makes loading, unloading, organizing and accessing gear for work and play more efficient. CargoGlide allows owners to store and easily retrieve heavy and bulky items like welders, compressors, heavy-duty tools, spare tires, rescue gear, boxes and more without crawling into the back of the truck.
With the pull of a lever, CargoGlide rolls forward out of the truck bed from its locked position. Extending past the end of the bed by as much as 100%, CargoGlide puts gear that would be otherwise out of reach at chest level.
More than a standalone storage solution, the CargoGlide sliding tray is designed to complement the DECKED Drawer System. Bolting CargoGlide atop the DECKED Drawer System is the ultimate solution in truck-bed utility. Owners can store heavy equipment on the CargoGlide. Beneath it, they can secure tools and smaller gear inside the Drawer System’s two full-length drawers.
DECKED CargoGlide comes in 1,000-, 1,500- and 2,200-pound payload options, with either 75% or 100% extension of the tray available. The 1,000-pound, 75% extension option is compatible with the DECKED Drawer System, enabling a truly multifaceted approach to organizing and accessing gear. https://decked.com/products/cargoglide
3. The current commercial focus for hydrogen fuel cells is on higher-use, harsher duty-cycle fleet applications that involve carrying bigger loads.
Think long-haul trucks, refrigerated trucks, garbage trucks and dump trucks.
4. Hydrogen refueling times are a fraction of the battery charge rates for a comparable range.
Hydrogen takes about the same amount of time as refueling a diesel vehicle.
5. The big obstacle to fuel-cell growth is the lack of infrastructure.
The high cost of hydrogen fuel and fueling stations has constrained fuel-cell expansion, but the U.S. infrastructure bill addresses this challenge. Initiatives are also underway to produce hydrogen locally to serve the local market. This model should reduce costs by minimizing hydrogen fuel transport.
6. There’s still a lack of knowledge and education around hydrogen fuel-cell technology.
That’s why OEMs are targeting the fleet/work truck industry as early adopters to help build awareness for the broader market.
7. Hydrogen fuel-cell generators could be an answer for EV resiliency.
Fuel-cell generators could replace fossil-fuel-powered generators to charge battery-electric vehicles in the field – especially important during storm response situations – or supplement existing grid capacity to handle power surges.
Along with higher unit slope capabilities come changes in stability testing requirements. Units must still be tested on a 5-degree slope in the direction of least stability. However, if the unit has allowable slope limits greater than 5 degrees, it must also be tested on its maximum allowable slope.Controls for positioning the platform must have an unlocking or enabling device to prevent inadvertent movements. ANSI has also added a requirement that the platform level must remain within 5 degrees of initial leveling while the boom structure is raised or lowered. Synthetic rope must have an average breaking strength of at least five times the working load. This addition mirrors the requirement in A10.31, the ANSI standard for digger derricks. Category C and D units with a conductive, articulating lower boom above rotation must have a chassis insulating system. This refers to the fiberglass section of the lower boom. Although not previously required, most if not all manufacturers have already installed them.
If a unit has upper controls with high electrical resistance, those controls shall be tested periodically at a one- to 12-month interval. This was previously a “should be tested” requirement.The entity performing periodic electrical tests must document each test and provide a certified report to the owner upon request. ANSI A92.2 now contains a specific listing of reportable test details. Manufacturers now have the option to provide one set of manuals in an electronic format. They must still provide at least one printed set along with the electronic copies. Updated Ownership Requirements Updating ownership records with the manufacturer is very important. This gives the manufacturer current contact information for sending equipment bulletins. Dealers and installers have a newly added responsibility to notify the manufacturer of the name and address of the new owner when a unit changes hands. A further requirement exists for dealers or installers to notify the new owner of their responsibilities under A92.2. ANSI A92.2 now defines a “service entity” as a person or entity whose business is inspecting, testing, maintaining or repairing aerial devices or mobile units. This is significant because service entities also have requirements under the standard, including the responsibility to properly train maintenance personnel to repair and operate the equipment. A major structural inspection shall be performed after the first 15 years of service, and every 10 years after that, or as directed by the manufacturer. This is a significant new requirement for owners. The major inspection must include a periodic inspection, level-surface stability testing, and a detailed inspection for structural deformations, broken members and cracked welds. Any damage must be repaired or replaced before returning the unit to service. There has long been a requirement for operators to use appropriately rated and tested insulating devices when handling energized lines. It is a common misconception that fiberglass jibs are insulating. Unless jibs are rated and tested for the voltages involved, they must be considered conductive. For this reason, A92.2 requires the use of insulating devices – such as link sticks or insulating jib inserts – for this work. These devices provide protection from energizing the boom tip through the jib and winch rope. In the upcoming revision, this requirement now falls on both the user and the operator. The user is the entity with custodial control of the unit, whether that’s an employer, dealer, installer, lessee, lessor or operator. Adding the user to this responsibility expands accountability beyond the operator for performing live-line conductor-handling tasks safely. A primary purpose of ANSI A92.2 is to standardize industry safety requirements, so when purchasing any A92.2-compliant device, you have assurance that a basic standard of safety is designed into each unit. This ultimately protects the personal safety of everyone in contact with the unit. Training Requirements As manufacturers innovate new features, such as fall protection lanyard detection sensors and advanced boom load monitoring systems, operators need to know how those features work, what protections they may offer, and how to inspect and test them before use. Unfortunately, many operators use new equipment without proper training. Lack of operator familiarity with complex equipment leads to increased risk for everyone on the job site. Nearly everyone in the utility industry knows that training is important, yet the vast majority of A92.2 equipment owners have no idea where the operator training requirements come from. Fortunately, that’s easy to answer. First, OSHA. They require employers to properly train employees to recognize and avoid hazards. However, OSHA provides very little detail on what constitutes proper training for A92.2 aerial devices. By interpretation letter (see www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1992-10-23-0), OSHA explained that they “use the ANSI requirements to help establish what the industry practice is in regard to operator qualifications.” Translation: Employers need to look to ANSI A92.2 for operator training requirements that comply with OSHA’s requirement to train. A92.2 defines operator training requirements and details what training topics to cover when training someone for the first time or when training someone on a new piece of equipment. ANSI A92.2 lists two main training categories. The first is general training. All operators must receive general training, which includes classroom information about safety topics and hazards related to operating aerial devices. General training also requires an operator to demonstrate hands-on proficiency in actual operation under the direction of a qualified person. Although not specified, general training should be refreshed periodically, and a five-year cycle is consistent with other industry certifications. Familiarization is the second training category. Operators must be familiarized with any unfamiliar units before operating them. A manufacturer’s in-service demonstration is not operator training. A typical in-service does not satisfy familiarization requirements and certainly does not fulfill the wider general training requirements. Through proper familiarization, operators learn about the location of the manuals, purpose and function of all controls, safety devices and unit operating characteristics. Of course, this also includes learning about any new features. To complete their familiarization, operators must achieve proficiency through actual operation of the unit. ANSI A92.2 also directs retraining if an accident or a near-miss occurs, or when a training need is observed. It would be appropriate to follow the general training requirements when retraining an operator since a qualified person must evaluate their proficiency in safe unit operation.
Here’s what owners and operators should know about upcoming updates to the standard.Simply put, general training is an “every operator, once” requirement and familiarization is an “every operator, specific units” requirement. OSHA expects to see documentation that both types of training occurred, and they will certainly expect the training program to meet the ANSI standard. Filling the Training Gap Many employers already have trainers on staff who handle new-hire and recurring training. As apprentices come in from formal, entry-level training programs, these in-house trainers may focus on teaching essential work methods and other qualification skills, leaving an unintentional gap in their basic operator training program. Assumption or ignorance fills this gap and creates eventual hazards for all involved. Often, the void in basic operator training programs is only recognized when an accident occurs and the resulting investigation reveals that an untrained operator did not know or follow the manufacturer’s guidance for operating the equipment. There are industry training resources that can help fill the gap. Some manufacturers offer in-person general training and specific-unit online familiarization courses to get operators started on the right training path. Train-the-trainer courses can also assist employers in developing their own qualified person to direct in-house operator training. Conclusion Although ANSI A92.2 training requirements are the same industry-wide, each employer must craft a compliant solution that fits their needs. The manufacturer is a good resource to help build the solution since A92.2 requires manufacturers to develop and offer training materials that aid in operating the unit. If you have an Altec unit, you can visit www.altecsentry.com. Whether you’ve got questions about training or the A92.2 standard in general, feel free to contact the Altec Sentry training department to start the discussion. About the Author: Phil Doud is the Sentry safety program manager for Altec. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miller Electric Mfg. LLC has announced the release of new CabEn Climate Solutions for truck cab heating and cooling. The only fully integrated cab heating and cooling systems on the market, CabEn Climate Solutions provide all-day relief from the outside environment while the truck is turned off.
Miller partnered with recognized industry leaders Bergstrom Inc. and Eberspacher to design, engineer and manufacture the systems with legendary Miller dependability. When the systems are paired with an EnPak power system, fleets and truck operators have the ultimate solution to eliminate truck engine idling.
Three new CabEn Climate Solutions are available. For work trucks that operate in both cold and hot environments, CabEn Climate Pak is a fully integrated heating and cooling solution.
For work trucks that primarily operate in cold environments, CabEn Heat warms the cab using a heater that’s powered by the truck’s diesel fuel supply. The truck’s engine never needs to run to keep technicians warm.
For work trucks that primarily operate in hot environments, the truck’s EnPak power system provides the power that CabEn Cool needs to maintain the cab at a comfortable temperature all day without the limitations of battery-operated cooling systems.
CabEn Climate Solutions utilize many existing truck HVAC components and controls, so the truck doesn’t require major modifications or additional components that take up room. www.millerwelds.com
Medium-duty fleet owners looking to invest in an alternative energy source that provides clean, affordable, reliable benefits have new technology to turn to with the Cummins B6.7 Propane. The 6.7-liter displacement engine will be built on Cummins’ recently announced fuel-agnostic B-series platform and powered with propane autogas. Backed by data and support from the Propane Education & Research Council, the new engine offers fleets a path to decarbonization without compromising on performance or range.
The new engine will provide fleet owners with diesel-like performance and durability, uptime and low total cost of ownership, with expected power ratings between 280-360 horsepower and 600-860 pound-feet of torque.
The B6.7 Propane is suited for several applications, including medium-duty truck, vocational, school bus and terminal tractor markets, making it a low-emissions solution designed to meet or exceed EPA and CARB regulations in 2024 and beyond. https://propane.com/fleet-vehicles
You might be surprised how a little thing like a safety sign can turn out to be one of your company’s biggest financial losses of the year. Over the last decade, I’m aware of three clients who lost big because a sign they put up was the wrong color, the print was imprecise, or the employer didn’t have a sign policy or effective safety sign training.
Let’s start with having a sign policy. When helping to develop any policy, I always tell clients that the policy you write is only as good as the training you provide when you roll it out. For instance, if I were to research signs in preparation for a sign policy, I would likely start with the ANSI Z535 safety sign standard. That is where you find the results of the research and testing performed by industry on how to compose and employ effective safety signs. Having done all the research, you establish a procedure and policy that ensure signs are effective. Your new policy enhances worker safety and the safety of the public, and it protects the employer. There is only one very big problem: Your sign program will not be effective if the workforce that uses the signs, the facilitator who provides the signs, and the employees who install or maintain the signs don’t understand sign color, size, print and placement. This is especially true over time when the signs become worn, illegible or damaged, or if they need to be replaced or moved.
If you aren’t already convinced, you are probably now asking, why do employees need to know about safety signs? There are a number of reasons and all of them are lab tested. Agencies like OSHA and MSHA know through experience that safety signs prevent incidents when they are part of a system of safety. Placing signs is only part of the job. A good safety program consists of several elements that link together to establish a safety culture. Employees who are trained on the purpose and function of safety signs are more likely to see and adhere to them. Training employees on the value and construction of signs gives them some ownership and awareness that signs are important and are not only to be followed but are to be maintained in a functional condition. Training on safety signs is not an all-day enterprise. But that short training makes the safety signs a tool in facilities safety when employees understand why they work and what they mean. Signs that an employer places in the environment are there to protect the public from hazards associated with the employer’s facilities. These are the signs warning of lakes, ditches, driveways, alligators, hidden drives, speed limits, trucks entering/exiting, energized equipment, radio-frequency energy and slow-moving vehicles.
The ANSI sign standards are tested to determine the effects on observers of viewing the signage and warning symbols. Those effective sign constructs are then categorized and standardized to keep signs consistent. When workers and the public see a safety sign, they are conditioned to react to the color and graphics. By “conditioned,” I mean that consistency in color, graphics and shape is immediately recognized as a warning because signs are consistent. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides the same consistency, so much so that no one really reads a stop sign. The size, shape and color automatically result in the driver slowing to a stop. This cognitive act was made clear a few years ago when an artist thought stop signs were boring, so he replaced numerous standard stop signs with artistic versions using different colors and graphics. The result was a flood of traffic accidents and jail for the artist who foolishly signed his artwork.
The ANSI safety sign standard specifies that a sign must have three panels bordered within the sign. The three components of effective signage are the signal word panel, the message panel and the symbol panel. The signal word is one word, such as “DANGER,” “WARNING” or “CAUTION.” The message is short, concise and describes the hazard, such as “High Voltage” or “Poison” or “Wild Animals.” The symbol panel is a second method to repeat the message for those who may not fully comprehend it. The symbols are researched using numerous groups of people of varying ages, levels of education, nationalities and culture groups to learn their responses to viewing the symbols. These three panels and the colored backgrounds make up the effectiveness of the sign. The colors for “DANGER” are white letters on a red background. For “WARNING,” they’re black letters on an orange background. “CAUTION” uses black letters on a yellow background, while “NOTICE” uses italicized white letters on a blue background. “SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS” are white letters on a green background.
The placement of signs is elective based on avenues of approach to the hazard and angles of view. Signs should be placed within view of an approaching person so that they can see the sign and react in time to avoid the hazard. Inside a facility where employees are trained to recognize signs, placement is simplified. Out in the public environment, unlike with the MUTCD, the size, number and location of signs are not specified. The owner must make an evaluation and consider the nature of the passing public and the level of hazard to decide where and how many signs are appropriate, keeping in mind that approaching persons must be able to see and react to the sign’s message in time to avoid the hazard.
In the introduction to this article, I mentioned the cost of poor environmental signage. Here are a couple of real instances where the true value of safety signs was overlooked.
A utility built a substation. The fence around the substation was 7 feet high with three strands of barbed wire at the top. The fence was also a minimum of 18 feet from the nearest structure in the substation. Outside the substation, a hedge ran parallel along the substation’s rear fence. The hedge was about 10 feet high and 12 feet from the fence. When the fence was erected, the crew installed “HIGH VOLTAGE” red-and-white warning signs every 30 feet along the 240-foot-long fence. About four months later, a local man with a history of burglary and theft convictions laid a wooden ladder against the barbed wire and easily scaled the fence. A short time later, while cutting the 4/0 ground from the substation power transformer, he got in series with a ground current and was electrocuted. A substation maintenance crew member found his body. According to the coroner, he had been in the substation three days.
Within 72 hours, the utility received a notice of claim and a negligence injury lawsuit based on the standards of care established in Section 11 of the National Electrical Safety Code and the codes referenced therein (the American National Standard for Environmental and Facility Safety Signs, ANSI Z535.1, .2, .3, .4 and .5). The suit was successful and hinged on one brief paragraph found in ANSI safety sign standard 8.2.2, “Determination of Safe Viewing Distance,” which reads, “Determination of safe viewing distance for the message panel text shall take into consideration a reasonable hazard avoidance reaction time.” It was argued by the utility that the ANSI standard only applied to workers. The jury disagreed – and they were right. The plaintiff’s case clearly showed that the ladder the victim used was placed almost equidistant between the two closest signs. The plaintiff also demonstrated that when emerging from the hedge used to conceal his unlawful entry for a criminal purpose, the local man could not see the face of the signs. That single argument was enough to result in a multimillion-dollar award to the family of the deceased.
This raises the question for the utility: Would training on sign placement and purpose have triggered a change in company policy? If the sign installers had recognized the placement issue, would the signs have been placed at 8-foot intervals and would that have prevented the incident? No one can argue intent or assumptions on the part of the deceased in this event. What is clearly true is that sign placement did not meet the intent of the standard of care.
A highway engineering and construction firm leased an empty 3-acre lot as a base of operations. Highway equipment and materials were stored there. Residential housing was across the street from the lot. A neighborhood market down the street next to the construction lot was across the street from a residential street entrance.
One morning, an improperly loaded material truck caught the system neutral of a single-phase line that crossed the construction lot entrance. The impact broke the #4 copper primary, which fell clear of the neutral, landing on the crushed granite cover in the construction lot. The road crews said the wire was smoking some at first but then stopped. They decided to put up a sign. They used a 4×8 sheet of 5/8 plywood against a sawhorse. In orange fluorescent marking paint, they sprayed this warning on the plywood: “Don’t Touch the Wire.” They proceeded to return to their work area some 100 yards away and then called the power company to report the downed wire.
Fewer than 15 minutes later, a pedestrian from the residential area crossed the street into the construction lot, walking toward the market. She stepped on the downed wire and was electrocuted just as the utility troubleman was pulling up to the location. One of the two-man crew cut the wire with hot cutters and rubber gloves while the second began CPR on the pedestrian. The first man drove to the fuse and pulled it. Despite their efforts, the victim did not survive.
The family of the deceased sued the engineering firm and won. The ANSI sign standard was the basis of their negligence claim. The plaintiff agreed that the workers sought to minimize risk to the public. The plaintiff’s claim also showed that the sign was noncompliant with the ANSI standard in size, shape, color and message and thus could not be recognized by the victim. It was purely an accident that the wire was brought down, but the crew recognized there was a remaining hazard. That is why they put up the sign. Their efforts were honorable but fell short of the standard of care established by the ANSI standard. The crew should have stood by to warn approaching members of the public of the hazard, but instead they chose to erect a warning. That made sense to them because they knew the nature of the hazard. The message made sense to them because they clearly knew of the presence of the wire. The color made sense to them because that is the color that they use to write warnings on the ground where underground obstructions are known to exist. But the pedestrian had no foreknowledge or experience that would have caused her to recognize the hazard expressed by the crew member’s sign.
The ANSI sign standard shows that colors, hazard symbols and warning messages have a repeatable and predictive effect, informing observers that a hazard is present. Of course, such a sign was not available in this case, and a compliant sign could not have been constructed by the highway workers. However, basic knowledge of the function and purpose of signs should have compelled the workers to know their plywood composition was not effective or compliant when such a life-threatening hazard was present. A trained worker would have immediately rejected the crew-made sign idea and posted observers to keep the area clear.
By the way, remember the old white “DANGER” sign in a red oval on a black background? When research showed the value of the three-panel design in 1991, the new design was presented. The ANSI standard explained the rejection of the old red oval but allowed its use to provide time for the conversion. In 1998, the oval sign was removed from the standard and no longer considered compliant. You can still buy them even though they were removed from the ANSI standard. However, again, installing red-oval “DANGER” signs is no longer considered compliant. The bottom line here is that if you are a safety person and/or a policy writer, you need to know these consensus standards and employ their guidance in your own safety programs – both to better protect your workers and to protect your employer.
About the Author: After 25 years as a transmission-distribution lineman and foreman, Jim Vaughn, CUSP, has devoted the last 24 years to safety and training. A noted author, trainer and lecturer, he is a senior consultant for the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Despite a lingering pandemic and a supply chain crisis, truck and van upfitters continue to bring new products to market that will help utility fleets cut costs, improve crew safety and productivity, and reduce carbon emissions.
So, what are some notable new products and design enhancements to keep your eye on in 2022? Here are eight developments.
XL Fleet Corp.
What’s New: Hybrid-electric upfit for Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickup trucks
XL Fleet Corp. now offers a hybrid-electric drive system for Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickup trucks.
This XLH system for Ram represents the fourth OEM platform with which XL Fleet’s electrification systems are compatible. The other OEMs are Ford, General Motors and Isuzu fleet vehicles.
XLH is available for select Ram 2500/3500 models with a 6.4-liter V-8 engine. It features a high-efficiency lithium-ion battery, inverter, and electric traction motor to propel the vehicle forward during acceleration and capture energy through regenerative braking during deceleration.
The system requires no external power or charging infrastructure to operate, and all OEM factory warranties remain intact. It also includes XL Fleet’s standard three-year, 75,000-mile warranty, with available extended warranty options.
What’s New: 86 Series telescopic cranes
The new 86 Series telescopic cranes have an octagon-shaped boom design (versus the previous hexagon shape) that allows the cranes to maintain strength with a more compact boom tip to create an easier reach in tight work areas.
The 8621 Telescopic Crane offers a maximum horizontal reach of 21 feet and vertical lift of nearly 23 feet from its crane base, with an 8,600-pound lifting capacity. The 8630 Telescopic Crane has a maximum horizontal reach of 30 feet and vertical lift of over 31 feet from its crane base, also with an 8,600-pound lifting capacity.
What’s New: General 65 digger derrick for utility transmission applications; Extreme Duty Auger
Terex Utilities has introduced a new generation of the General 65 digger derrick for utility transmission applications, along with a new high-productivity auger tool.
The updated General 65 offers increased capacity ranges from 26% at high boom angles with X‐Boost to 80% at lower boom angles specifically below 0 degrees (subject to chassis and unit configuration due to stability). X-Boost adjusts hydraulic pressure to increase load-handling capability and enhance performance for lifting at high boom angles.
The company also recently introduced its Extreme Duty Auger designed for longer wear when used in hard soil mixed with rock and boulders. The auger’s hex hub is available in 2.5-inch, 2-5/8-inch and 3-inch sizes. The 1-inch flighting is solid welded to the stem and extends the full length of the stem to reduce bending.
What’s New: Redesigned ladder rack product line
Ranger Design’s new ladder rack line includes the Max Rack Low-Roof, Cargo Rack, Clamp Rack and Combination Rack.
The Max Rack Low-Roof is a drop-down rack that requires only four hooks for easy installation.
And the Clamp Rack’s inside hooks help guide the ladder for safer and easier loading and unloading. The Clamp Rack’s throttle latch secures the ladder from the outside to avoid rungs, brackets and gussets. Its new design prevents metal-to-metal contact and reduces risk of splintering from fiberglass ladders.
What’s New: CDTpro control system with Range Finder technology
Stellar’s updated CDTpro control system with Range Finder technology offers a single-handed controller that delivers quick, smooth operation with finite control for precise placements of loads while allowing multiple functions to run simultaneously.
With the Range Finder, the operator can create a lift plan without needing to unstow the crane. It estimates distance and calculates crane capacities wherever the operator holds the control system.
The CDTpro feedback screens include the current load of the crane and distance to maximum capacity. The system also vibrates to alert the operator when they’re approaching maximum load capacity.
What’s New: Bolt Bins
Maintainer Corp. has expanded its line of service truck accessories to include the new Maintainer Bolt Bins. The Bolt Bins have a housing and shelves made of 0.090-inch aluminum, with bins made of composite material. The units are available in a standard 18.5-inch depth or optional 12.5-inch depth. Each standard-depth bin is rated for 25 pounds and comes with three aluminum removable dividers.
There are eight standard configurations in the introductory Bolt Bins lineup, but custom configurations up to eight bins wide and eight levels high are also available.
What’s New: Velocity R2
Utilimaster has expanded its Velocity walk-in van lineup to include the R2, an under-10,000-pound-GVWR van built on the Ram ProMaster chassis.
The Velocity R2 will debut in Indianapolis at the NTEA Work Truck Show this March.
With the Velocity R2, there’s no need to walk outside to open the cargo door. Operators can push a button to open the interior bulkhead door, making it easier and safer to access the cargo area.
The van’s safety systems include a 360-degree camera with clear, wide views for backing up and avoiding potential hazards while driving or parking, and rear and front collision detection systems to protect the driver, pedestrians and other vehicles on the road.
Utilimaster can customize the R2’s interior shelving, cabinets, bins and partitions for utility service applications.
What’s New: HyPower SmartPTO for Hi-Ranger aerial devices and Commander digger derricks
Terex Utilities has introduced the HyPower SmartPTO for a variety of Hi-Ranger telescopic, overcenter and non-overcenter aerial devices, and Commander and General digger derricks.
The system reduces engine idling to increase fuel savings and reduce noise and air pollution. And it powers the primary unit, auxiliary functions, lights and optional integrated cab A/C using factory vents and controls.
The SmartPTO comes standard with a 14-kWh battery, which Terex said can get most utility crews through a normal workday. An optional 21-kWh battery is available for higher-use applications.
The SmartPTO warns operators to recharge the battery within about 5% of battery life. When the engine is powered, it automatically disengages the ePTO function for specific situations – such as storm restoration – where plug-in recharging is limited.
The state of the all-electric pickup race has changed considerably in just one year.
Last January, the Ohio-based startup Lordstown Motors was poised to take the inside lane to produce the first-ever all-electric pickup with its Endurance truck.
But then allegations of fraud in the spring and a subsequent Department of Justice investigation hammered the stock and led to the resignations of the CEO and other key leaders. The company is now on life support with dim prospects of ever producing a pickup.
Meanwhile, Amazon-backed Rivian, another startup, became the first to market in September with its R1T all-electric pickup. And GM launched its Edition 1 model GMC Hummer EV in December.
Ford, which introduced the F-150 Lightning last May, expects to begin producing the electric pickup this spring. Chevrolet announced in January that its Silverado EV would launch next spring.
What about Tesla’s Cybertruck? Some new developments are impacting its target launch timeline.
Toyota recently announced its plan to build an electric pickup but has not offered details yet.
So, here’s a breakdown of the key contenders in the electric pickup race – as it stands today – to help you assess which vehicles might be available for and applicable to your fleet operations in the next few years.
Irvine, California-based Rivian was the first automaker out of the gate when its first R1T electric pickup truck, offering a range of about 300 miles, rolled off the assembly line in Normal, Illinois, on September 14, 2021.
The crew cab truck seats five and starts at $67,500, a steep price for most fleet applications. But production capacity is perhaps the company’s biggest barrier to widespread fleet adoption.
Rivian produced 1,050 vehicles in 2021, about 15% below the company’s 1,200-unit target. And according to reporting by Bloomberg, the company halted its production lines for about a week in early January to fix its manufacturing processes to ramp up to 200 units produced weekly, an increase from the current rate of 50.
But the 200 units per week number is about 1/10th of Ford’s production forecast to reach a 150,000-unit annual rate by next year for the F-150 Lightning.
The bottom line: Rivian might have the head start, but will it be able to hold off Ford and GM, which have much larger manufacturing capacities, stronger supply chains and greater economies of scale?
R1T by the Numbers
Max Range: 314 miles (with a 400-plus-mile-range battery available in 2023)
Max Horsepower/Torque: 835 hp/908 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 3 secs.
Max Payload: 1,760 lbs.
Max Towing: 11,000 lbs.
Pricing: $67,500 to $73,000 MSRP
Deliveries: Started September 2021
Ford F-150 Lightning
Expected to arrive this spring, the all-electric crew cab F-150 Lightning will be available in four trim levels: Pro (the work truck version with vinyl seats); XLT (mid-level trim with cloth seats); Lariat (up-level trim with leather heated and ventilated seats); and Platinum (high-end premium trim).
One option utility fleets will find interesting: an available onboard scale that uses sensors to estimate payload so that operators can know precisely how much weight they’re hauling. This is important because payload impacts range. And the onboard scale is integrated with Ford’s Intelligent Range system to provide operators an estimated range that’s as accurate as possible.
The Lightning’s starting price of $39,974 is more in line with most fleet budgets, but recent news reports state that some Ford dealers have been capitalizing on the strong demand by marking up the price by tens of thousands of dollars over MSRP.
The bottom line: On paper, Ford looks like a strong contender. The truck should start hitting the roads soon, and the company has a lot of the pieces in place – manufacturing capacity, supply chain and a vast service network – to accelerate to the lead in electric truck production and sales. But with such strong retail demand projected, how much will fleets have to pay? What will be the allocation for the fleet-spec Pro models?
Lightning by the Numbers
Max Range: 300 miles
Max Horsepower/Torque: 563 hp/775 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 4 secs.
Max Payload: 2,000 lbs.
Max Towing: 10,000 lbs.
Pricing: $39,974 to $52,974 MSRP
Deliveries: This spring
GMC Hummer EV
The GMC Hummer EV pickups began rolling off the assembly line in December.
The first trucks are Edition 1 models priced at $110,295 MSRP and estimated to produce 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 pound-feet of torque.
A couple of notable features include 4-Wheel Steer with Crabwalk and Adaptive Air Suspension with Extract Mode. The 4-Wheel Steer feature allows the rear and front wheels to steer at the same angle at low speeds, enabling diagonal movement for greater maneuverability on rough terrain, while the Adaptive Air Suspension raises the suspension height by 6 inches to handle extreme off-road situations, such as clearing boulders and fording water.
Lower-price models ($79,995 to $89,995) are targeted for deliveries in 2023 and 2024.
The bottom line: Hummer’s price and performance specs are overkill for most utility fleet applications. However, the truck’s off-road capabilities might make the Hummer EV an interesting pilot vehicle for a fleet looking to electrify part of its all-terrain utility vehicle segment; it could serve as a people-mover in areas that are hard to reach with conventional four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Hummer EV by the Numbers
Max Range: 329 miles
Max Horsepower/Torque: 1,000 hp/11,500 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 3 secs.
Max Payload: 1,300 lbs.
Max Towing: 7,500 lbs.
Pricing: $79,995 to $110,295 MSRP
Deliveries: Started December 2021 (with Edition 1)
Chevrolet Silverado EV
In January, Chevrolet introduced the 2024 Silverado EV crew cab pickup that’s expected to offer 400 miles in range and produce up to 664 horsepower with 780 pound-feet of torque.
The truck is targeted to launch in spring 2023 as a work truck model with a starting MSRP of $39,900. A fully loaded RST First Edition model will debut with an MSRP of $105,000 in fall 2023.
GM said that customers will have the ability to spec the truck across various price ranges to build a truck that meets their capability and pricing requirements.
The bottom line: Chevy’s Silverado EV is a strong answer to the F-150 Lightning. It’s priced right for fleets while offering 100 more miles of maximum range than the Lightning.
But the truck’s targeted launch date is a year after Ford’s, giving the Lightning a significant head start, especially with prospective fleet customers. So, the critical question is, what is GM’s strategy to catch Ford?
Silverado EV by the Numbers
Max Range: 400 miles
Max Horsepower/Torque: 664 hp/780 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 4.5 secs.
Max Payload: 1,300 lbs.
Max Towing: 10,000 lbs.
Pricing: $39,900 to $105,000 MSRP
Deliveries: Spring 2023
The Cybertruck was introduced in 2019 with great fanfare by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. At the time, it appeared that Tesla would be the prohibitive favorite in the electric pickup race.
After all, on paper, the Cybertruck looks unbeatable: up to 500 miles of electric range, a maximum payload – 3,500 pounds – that’s nearly double the competition’s, a maximum tow capacity of 14,000 pounds and a base price under $40,000.
Plus, deliveries were slated to begin in late 2021. But that didn’t happen.
In the most recent earnings call in January, Musk confirmed that 2022 wouldn’t be the year for the Cybertruck either. “If we were to introduce new vehicles, our total vehicle output will decrease,” he said. “We will not be introducing new vehicle models this year.”
Musk said that the Cybertruck won’t launch until 2023 at the earliest.
The bottom line: While other models mentioned in this article have either started deliveries or have firm targets in sight, the Cybertruck appears to be in limbo. And that puts it to the back of the pack – for now.
Cybertruck by the Numbers
Max Range: 500 miles
Horsepower/Torque: 800 hp/1,000 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 2.9 secs.
Max Payload: 3,500 lbs.
Max Towing: 14,000 lbs.
Pricing: $39,900 to $69,900 MSRP
Deliveries: TBD 2023 (initially targeted for late 2021)
As electric light-duty trucks and vans begin to be delivered to customers, fleet managers are keeping a close eye on emerging technologies that could reshape operations over the next year or two.
Battery-electric vehicles are some of the hottest tech to hit the market, especially for utilities that have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. But they’re in short supply, as are gas and diesel vehicles, due to the semiconductor shortages that have hampered vehicle production worldwide.
Another top trend is analyzing the billions of data points from connected vehicles to help guide not only fleet acquisition and rationalization but driver performance as well.
The Rivian R1T is one of the first battery-electric pickups to go from prototype to production, with trucks hitting the streets late last year. The Ford F-150 Lightning is expected to roll off the assembly line this spring. The Tesla Cybertruck launch has been delayed, but don’t count Elon Musk out of the race just yet. And other manufacturers have announced or are already producing hybrid versions of pickups and SUVs to improve gas mileage and reduce environmental impact. Electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks are still a few years away from widespread availability.
Some fleet drivers could take home light-duty vehicles like a plug-in hybrid Prius or an F-150 Lightning pickup, but that could also present a challenge.
According to Jeremy Dewey, manager of EV operations for Holman Enterprises (www.holmanenterprises.com), a fleet management provider based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, “You have to look at the infrastructure for charging – can the employee’s home accommodate the installation of a charging station?”
Dewey also said that overreliance on public charging infrastructure could be a dangerous and costly proposition as drivers may find it challenging to find a working charger where and when they need one.
The chip shortage won’t last forever, and when it eases, manufacturers will ramp up EV production, so it’s a good idea to prepare. Utilities should assess their EV readiness and replacement needs to support the company’s overall sustainability goals, said John Wuich, vice president of strategic consulting services for Donlen (www.donlen.com), a Bannockburn, Illinois-based fleet management company.
“Map out your charging infrastructure before your EVs hit the ground and keep an eye and an ear to federal tax credits and state and local rebates that may be available,” Wuich said.
With a flood of data from fleet telematics, it’s easy to get caught in analysis paralysis. Fleet managers can track power-takeoff usage, unproductive idle time, route optimization, seat-belt usage and high-risk driving behavior, such as harsh braking and aggressive cornering.
It’s tempting to try to home in on the perfect solution for every problem, but that’s not realistic. Instead, Dewey recommended fleet managers use the data to make quick, actionable decisions.
“If you’re seeking perfection in the data, I would caution you against it; strive for ‘close enough’ and then work on incremental improvements from there,” he said.
Fleets need the right tools and analytics professionals to make the best use of the data they already have and will generate using EVs.
“The fact that most companies seem unable to identify an actual return on telematics investments or seem to use telematics as an asset tracker may be an indication that data is not being used to the full benefit,” Wuich said.
Fleets can track assets to make actionable decisions to repair, replace or redeploy assets where needed. Assets that are overutilized tend to lead to higher maintenance costs. It may make sense to redeploy underutilized assets from elsewhere to reduce operational expenses. Given the rising costs in the used vehicle market, underutilized assets could be liquidated for a high return on value.
Fleets may also have surplus vehicles because their driver population has decreased due to the pandemic and other factors.
“With telematics, maintenance and other data, it’s a quick assessment to decide which vehicles to sell off and capitalize on that given the state of the U.S. vehicle market today,” Dewey said. “Suppose you have vehicles that are no longer necessary to support your business. In that case, there’s an opportunity to liquidate them for top dollar, money that can be reinvested into other areas of your business.”
Fleets are under pressure to commit to carbon emissions reduction and other sustainability measures in the coming years. It will take time to develop a strategy based on real-life data and a plan to adopt electric or alternative fuel vehicles to meet those goals. What once seemed like science fiction with EVs is rapidly becoming a reality.
“You have to start with a plan today because this is not an evolution, it’s a revolution,” Dewey said. “Identify your goals and determine the incremental steps it will take to achieve those goals over the next three, five, 10 years. Transitioning to EVs and hybrids won’t happen overnight, so it is best to plan for a gradual transition over the course of multiple vehicle life cycles.”
A utility’s ability to meet its goals is dependent on how well its fleet transitions from gas or diesel to EVs.
“The key will be good replacement forecast planning, so setting a goal now gives you a target at which to shoot as you plan your transition,” Wuich said.
About the Author: Gary L. Wollenhaupt is a Phoenix-based freelance writer who covers the transportation, energy and technology sectors for a variety of publications and companies.
Prepare for the EV Transition
Industry experts recommend these steps to plan for your utility fleet’s transition to electric vehicles: