J.B. Hunt gets dibs on trying out Freightliner electric eCascadia

J.B. Hunt Transport eCascadia

J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. is running drayage from the Port of Los Angeles in a Freightliner eCascadia battery-electric truck.

The subsidiary of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT) is the first of 14 companies to try the zero-tailpipe-emission Class 8 tractor as part of Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) expanded exposure to fleets ahead of taking orders in late 2021.

DTNA has accumulated more than 300,000 electric miles on 20 eCascadias and 10 Class 6 medium-duty eM2 106 trucks placed with NFI Industries and Penske Truck Leasing in California.

Getting customers amped

In March, DTNA added six eCascadias and two eM2s to get the trucks into the hands of more customers over the next 22 months.

J.B. Hunt completed its first delivery, a 120-mile intermodal haul for Walmart (NYSE: WMT). part of integrating the eCascadia into its day-to-day fleet operations in Los Angeles. 

The carrier added five custom-designed FUSO eCanter battery-electric medium-duty box trucks to its fleet in 2018. FUSO is a Japan-based brand of Daimler Trucks.

“J.B. Hunt is continually exploring innovative solutions such as the eCascadia to improve the sustainability of our fleet and operations,” said Craig Harper, J.B. Hunt executive vice president and chief operations officer. “We are excited to test this vehicle and gain more hands-on experience with all-electric tractors.”

The eCascadia can travel up to 250 miles on a single charge. That’s ideal for local and regional distribution runs and drayage, which often covers the same routes. The all-electric tractor has a 525-horsepower engine. It can reach 80% state of charge in 90 minutes with direct charging (DC).

“The collaboration between vehicle manufacturer and transportation logistics experts is a necessity to develop these industry-leading technologies,” said Richard Howard, DTNA senior vice president, on-highway sales and marketing.

J.B. Hunt installed charging stations at its Los Angeles terminal. Driver training is ongoing.  

A decade of Smartway Excellence

“Walmart encourages and works with our suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their sustainability efforts,” said Jane Ewing, Walmart senior vice president of sustainability.

J.B. Hunt has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay Excellence Award for 10 straight years because of its commitment to fleet sustainability. 

In 2019, the company prevented nearly 3.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 700,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year. 

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.