US Army plans for an EV future

The US Army has been tentatively testing EV technology for some time. Electrification offers opportunities to streamline the military’s logistics tail and to improve its mobility and reach, and the process needs to move faster, a general with Army Futures Command told Defense News in a recent interview.

“Let’s be clear. We’re behind. We’re late to meet on this thing,” said Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, the Director of the Army’s Futures and Concepts Center. “All of the various nations that we work with, they’re all going to electric power with their automotive fleet, and right now, although…we’ve got some research and development going on and we can build prototypes, in terms of a transition plan, we are not there.”

For example, the Army tested a hybrid Chevy Colorado that was equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell and electric drive, but nothing came of the effort.

Buying a Tesla vehicle is easy, but “the Army has to think about it much bigger,” Wesley said. “What is the cost of replacing your entire fleet? We know we can’t do that. There’s got to be a steady transition.”

Wesley’s command is currently preparing a proposal that will address how the service might electrify its logistics and sustainment tails. The proposal will make a business case for electrification, discuss the technical feasibility and describe a transition process.

The entire automotive industry is going electric, Wesley told Defense News, so the Army will have to do the same or risk problems with resources and supply chains down the line.

Electrifying also offers several advantages. For one, it would make it easier to supply power to the array of high-tech devices that a modern army depends on. “We have to operate distributed, which means you have to have organic power that is readily available,” Wesley said. “A lot of technology is being distributed at lower and lower echelons, and the question is always: ‘How are we going to power these [highly technical] tools that we use in operations?’ Electrification allows you to have access to readily available power to distribute not only for the vehicle but for all those different systems.”

Dealing with fewer parts would also be a benefit. The general noted that a Tesla has only a few dozen moving parts, while an ICE vehicle may have thousands. He added that EVs’ silence and low heat signature could make them less likely to be detected by enemy forces.

Source: Defense News