2018 Crystal Ball Part 1

By Mike Whalen

The December issues of Ontario, Western and Eastern Trucking News are featuring the electric truck. I suspect the medium duty vocational markets – urban logistics, landscaping, bus, etc. – will be the first to take advantage of the lower life-cycle cost of operating these trucks. Units from Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), part of Daimler Trucks Asia (DTA), the front runner in electric trucks, has delivered the first units of its eCanter to the urban logistics market in Japan and UPS in north America.
Tesla has introduced an electric class 8 tractor, but these won’t be available until 2019. The first to place orders will no doubt be vocational operations that can provide home-based recharging. Assuming the truck lives up to the hype it won’t be long until major long-distance carriers jump on-board. Drop-in electric power options for diesel trucks in-service will be next
It appears the electric truck will reduce operating costs and, I suspect, will go along way to reduce the driver shortage. New entrée’s will be attracted to the technology and the ease of driving these ‘futuristic’ transports.
The off-road vehicle market will take a little longer to see electric power. A mobile, or on-site charging station, will be needed by heavy construction, logging, and other operations that are continually changing locations and are too remote to return to home-base to be recharged. Also, the power needs of the off-road vocations range from low HP support equipment to high HP machines. Lots of challenges for the off-road equipment OEM.
Now the question becomes, how will the traditional diesel truck component manufacturers react to this shift to electric power. Cummins has been developing their own truck and, of course, other components. I’m sure other parts and component manufacturers are looking at products to replace standard items. Diesel engine component and accessory manufacturers will definitely be effected, and without the truck OEM’s economy of scale, aftermarket prices of many parts will rise.
What will this new world hold for the aftermarket. Truck service and maintenance needs will see drastic changes. What will the roll of the Independent Service Provider be when it comes to servicing electric trucks? Probably the truck and bus OE dealer will have an even stronger hold on their aftermarket.
Will the independent aftermarket parts and component distributor’s number one lines, such as lubricants, filters, belts and hoses, be replaced by truck accessories?
The one market segment that won’t be adversely affected is the truck body builder and truck equipment installer. In fact, the urban logistics and municipal services markets – such as refuse and utility – will be quick to replace gas and diesel trucks with new electric trucks.
In the next issue we’ll attempt to provide a look at what each aftermarket segment should do to survive in this quickly changing environment.

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