New research out of MIT shows that going electric could save urban delivery fleets some serious money in the long term, as long as their trucks end up giving power back to the grid when they’re not in use.
Buying a battery-powered vehicle is a tough decision for a fleet manager to make. The initial cost of an electric delivery truck is usually around $150,000 — about three times the cost of a traditional gas or diesel truck. Longer-term gains exist, but currently take years to realize.
A new study from MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) took that well-worn math and added another component: Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) tehnology. In such a scenario, fleet owners would plug in their trucks when not in use and sell electricity back to the power grid. Depending on when trucks get plugged in, fleets could earn between $900 and $1400 per vehicle in electricity sales.
Using data culled from the New England power grid and the office supply giant Staples, who already operates a fleet of electric delivery trucks alongside those with internal combustion engines, the researchers found that total operational cost per mile would drop from 75 cents per mile for a diesel truck to 68 cents per mile for an EV.
Best of all, almost any fleet manager could realize those savings — even an individual owner/operator. “Almost all these costs scale down to the individual vehicle,” said Jarrod Goentzel, one of the study’s co-authors.
Since V2G technology depends on managing the flow of power to and from EVs, fleet vehicles would be particularly attractive candidates for V2G inclusion. They operate on a set schedule, which guarantees that utilities would receive a steady source of power.
“The initial opportunities for V2G are likely to be for fleets, because they can be managed and controlled,” Goentzel said.