As the state plots ways to get more electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks on the roads, a Denver-based company that rents commercial trucks is electrifying more of its fleet.
Fluid Truck, which allows people to rent commercial vehicles on demand by using their mobile devices, has added 2023 Ford F-150 electric trucks to its available rentals. James Eberhard, Fluid Truck CEO and co-founder, believes the rental company is the first in the country to add the Ford F-150 Lightning to its fleet.
“Businesses that are looking at how this truck is going to work for them, they can hop on the Fluid Truck app, book it, try it out and get a better understanding of how an electric truck is going to work for their businesses,” Eberhard said.
The company is working with companies to increase the number of electric delivery trucks, vans and other vehicles. Eberhard said Fluid Truck is helping Ikea go all electric with their delivery vehicles by 2025. He said similar partnerships with other large companies are in the early stages.
While Eberhard sees the value in moving to electric vehicles, he said more charging stations and supporting infrastructure must be built out.
Fluid Truck, which started in 2016, operates in 60 markets across the U.S. and works with tens of thousands of small businesses, Eberhard said. The idea for the company grew from the need for companies to have access to trucks and vans at certain times without having to buy them.
“I discovered this huge problem that as a business, it’s difficult to rent vehicles or get vehicles on a short-term basis when you need them,” Eberhard said. “It forces a lot of businesses to go buy fleets of vehicles that you only need for your peak periods of usage, whether that be on the weekends or the front or the back of the month.”
Fluid Truck has grown quickly, expanding from five employees in 2018 to 460 this year. The company was No. 101 on INC. Magazine’s 2022 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the U.S.
As the company expands, Eberhard said he sees “a lot of value in what (electric vehicles) can bring.”
“I think everyone kind of recognizes that the electric motor is a lot more efficient, a lot easier to use,” Eberhard said.
Electric vehicles require less maintenance and don’t emit greenhouse gasses, he added. Roughly 1% of Fluid Truck’s fleet is electric, about the same percentage of the nation’s electric vehicles overall. The company is adding charging stations at its facility and working with businesses to ensure they have the support they need.
Fluid Truck buys EVs from a number of different manufacturers. The company has bought trucks and vans from Loveland-based Lightning eMotors, which designs and produces medium- and heavy-duty electric commercial vehicles.
One of the goals in the Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap is to have 940,000 EVs or zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030. The state is specifically targeting medium- and heavy-duty vehicles through the Clean Truck Strategy. Those vehicles include school buses, semi trucks, snow plows, delivery vans and large pickup trucks. They produce 22% of the greenhouse gasses emitted by vehicles while making up less than 10% of all the vehicles on Colorado roads, according to the state Department of Transportation.
In December, the Air Quality Control Commission will review proposed rules to electrify medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. An obstacle is going to be the infrastructure, Eberhard said. “I would love today to have half the vehicles on our platform be electric.”
However, “changing from gasoline to electrons” will require a transformation of the infrastructure, Eberhard said. “And that takes time.”
Eberhard would like to see the process for getting permits to install charging stations streamlined. “We’re actively out there to talk through the transformation on the commercial vehicle side.”
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