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Want Clean Trucks in NYC? It Won’t Happen by Itself.

May 06 2019
Photo by Getty Images.

NYCEDC released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to develop an electric vehicle support structure in New York City. Here’s why that’s so important.

The freight industry plays a big role in the lives of all New Yorkers, but it’s probably not something most of us think about every day, every week, or… ever at all? When we go to the grocery store, there are products on the shelves. When we order something online, it simply arrives at our door a few days later. But, in reality, it takes great effort and logistical planning to get our goods to their final destinations.

There are plenty of ways to get products to consumers—by plane, ship, train, or truck. In a city like New York, trucks play an even more important role in getting goods to their final destination: here, 90 percent of goods are moved by truck, compared to the national average of 70 percent.[1] As the e-commerce sector continues to grow and other industries adopt new technologies, New York’s freight volume is projected to increase by 68 percent through 2045.[2]

This, of course, means more trucks on the roads. Currently, transportation alone accounts for about 30 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions—12 percent of which is generated by medium and heavy-duty trucks. Given this situation, it’s more important than ever to explore clean truck technologies, such as battery electric, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen.[3]

Nationally, only about 10 percent of trucks use some sort of alternative fuel.[4] By one estimate, electric truck sales could only attain about 15 percent of global market share by 2030 absent a concerted public effort.[5] To spur wider adoption, New York City has already committed to adding 2,000 electric vehicles to its municipal fleet by 2025. For the private sector, however, making the switch to clean technology can be cost-prohibitive, especially when there’s a lack of existing infrastructure, such as charging stations. For the trucking and logistics industry, this creates a vicious cycle—with no incentive to build the necessary infrastructure for mass adoption of green technologies, companies don’t make investments in alternative fuels, and greenhouse emissions continue to rise.

The clean trucks vision, part of the City’s Freight NYC plan, aims to break this cycle and expedite the adoption of cleaner truck technologies. This week, NYCEDC released a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) to develop electric vehicle support structures, especially those that will support light- and medium-duty commercial trucks and vehicles. This RFEI is the first step in Freight NYC’s Clean Trucks vision that will help meet the City’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Learn more about the RFEI here.

[1] Freight NYC, NYCEDC, 2018
[2] Freight NYC, NYCEDC, 2018
[3] Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2016, City of New York, 2017
[4] Penske Truck Leasing, “Industry Sees Increased Use of Natural Gas, Growth in Fueling Stations”
[5] New Reality: Electric Trucks and Their Implications on Energy Demand, McKinsey Energy Insights, 2017