Trucking firms are caught in a bit of a bind—emissions regulations are tightening, but electric heavy-duty trucks come with high upfront costs. A startup called Revoy offers an interesting transitional solution—the Revoy EV is basically a small trailer full of batteries that attaches to a diesel semi-truck to effectively turn it into a hybrid.
At Revoy’s swapping station in Dallas, the Revoy EV, with a pre-charged battery, is attached between a tractor and a semi-trailer. “That process takes about five minutes, which is actually faster than filling up a tank of diesel,” says Ian Rust, CEO and founder of Revoy. When the truck leaves Dallas, it drives 234 miles to a station in Arkansas for another quick swap.
The Revoy EV’s battery provides enough extra power to increase a rig’s fuel efficiency from 6-8 miles per gallon of diesel to 20-35 miles per gallon, cutting emissions by 70-80% and potentially saving a shipper as much as $25,000 in fuel costs per truck per year.
In addition to the up-front expense, trucking companies face a learning curve to go electric. The price of electricity can vary, so truckers may need to choose the right time to charge (or take advantage of a battery-buffered charging station). “It involves basically getting into the electricity market, not something trucking companies have traditionally done,” says Rust.
Revoy’s system charges its batteries only at times when the cost of electricity is low, and trucking companies pay only for the service, not the vehicles. The concept is a bit like battery swapping, but it’s far more flexible—attaching the Revoy EV between tractor and trailer is simple, and the technology can be used with any kind of truck. The system is designed to fit smoothly into the current process that shippers use. Unlike powered trailers made by Range Energy and others, the Revoy EV is used with a trucker’s existing trailers.
“They’re running their same route, and when they’re doing their regular stops, they’re just applying a Revoy EV and saving some money and largely decarbonizing,” Rust explains. “What we sell to our customers really is torque. They’re just getting power to haul their load, and that’s ultimately what they care about.”
The extra power also helps trucks accelerate faster—a handy safety feature—and the trailer features regenerative braking, which decreases the rig’s stopping distance by as much as 30%. Revoy’s technology also adds driver assistance features like blind spot detection, automatic reversing and auto-correction to help trucks prevent rollovers or jackknifing.a
After three years of R&D, Revoy is now in production, and is planning to add more swapping stations in Texas, Arkansas, California and Oregon. “The unit economics work,” Rust says. “The customers are loving it. And it’s just a matter of getting those swapping stations in more areas.”