Foggy Path to EVs

Oct. 31, 2022

Government mandates and corporate ESG (environment, social, and governance) goals make it inevitable that electric-powered equipment and trucks will become part of America’s fleets of construction equipment. Although it is difficult to gauge user demand, managers of these fleets must find a way to walk the path before them, regardless of the misgivings many espouse today.

Supply will open up, infrastructure money will flow, and budgets will adjust for price increases. Construction equipment asset managers must be prepared to wisely invest their capital in the equipment best suited to accomplish their organizations’ goals. Different now is that equipment professionals must not only be aware of what projects are coming, but they must also understand how EVs fit into the organization’s goals. If the organization has adopted ESG goals, it will require fleets to acquire equipment accordingly. If the organization plans to work in municipalities or states with environmental requirements for construction projects, the machines used on those projects must comply.

Some headwinds to integration of electric equipment are clear; others are lurking over the horizon. Onsite charging and OEM supply issues are well documented. How the industry will source the raw materials needed not only for EVs but also for the nation’s smartphones and Teslas is much murkier. All this will affect how much and when electric equipment can be acquired.

General Motors and Volvo (in California) are working on building charging infrastructure. GM and Ford are inking agreements with battery suppliers. On-site charging stations and solar-powered generators can keep compact equipment operational.

Managers can also rent electric equipment for projects. Rental houses such as United Rentals and Sunbelt can provide on-site charging capabilities, and some OEMs are working toward similar support. These efforts will help in the short term.

Compact equipment and pickup trucks are obvious initial investments for fleets integrating electric power. Here are insights into electric excavator acquisition and electric pickup trucks.

For fleets that do not yet face requirements for carbon emissions, they will. Managers must keep abreast of not only governmental mandates such as those included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), but developments on the OEM and rental front.

About the Author

Rod Sutton

Sutton has served as the editorial lead of Construction Equipment magazine and since 2001. 

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