Like many other products, Class 8 trucks are not so easy to get these days, thanks to the ongoing semiconductor shortage and other supply chain problems. FreightWaves reports that, at the end of 2021, the typical order-to-build timing was over a year. According to ACT Research, the backlog of unbuilt units was about 267,000 in November, which translates to a 13-month wait for most orders.
However, some manufacturers, under pressure to meet state zero-emission mandates, are processing orders for electric trucks in a quarter of that time.
The number of orders for electric trucks is still minuscule compared to legacy diesels. FTR Transportation Intelligence estimates that customers placed orders for around 23,100 Class 8 trucks in December, of which only a few hundred were for EVs.
FreightWaves spoke with several OEMs at CES in Las Vegas, and they said fleet customers that have tested EVs are returning to order bigger numbers. Navistar said interest in its new International eMV Series soared after fleet trials. Kenworth says its T680E electric truck can be delivered in three months.
There’s another factor that’s giving fleet operators headaches: in some states, purchasers of EVs are required to retire older, more polluting trucks, so ponying up for an EV doesn’t allow them to increase their freight-hauling capacity, which they badly need to do.
“Fleets need a considerable number of new trucks right now. Industry capacity is extremely tight, resulting in elevated freight rates,” Don Ake, FTR’s VP of Commercial Vehicles, told FreightWaves. “The carriers have freight to haul and funds available for new trucks, but OEMs can’t build enough.”