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  • Have you ever been cruising on a highway

  • and wondered where the heck are all those trucks going?

  • There's a behind the scenes world of logistics

  • that makes virtually everything

  • in our modern lives possible.

  • Not only do we take it for granted,

  • we're completely oblivious to its environmental cost,

  • but thanks to a handful of companies,

  • there's a hidden revolution happening

  • that as it turns out,

  • is perfectly suited to delivering a cleaner future.

  • For years, online ordering and rapid home delivery

  • have been booming

  • and thanks to the pandemic,

  • this trend has evolved into a way of life.

  • But what actually happens when I click

  • that tempting button to buy, let's say,

  • an old school real hard cover book?

  • For mighty Amazon,

  • which tends to capture the lion's share of all book sales,

  • they're trucked along with other books

  • to one of several Amazon inbound fulfillment centers.

  • Now the book is an Amazon's massive fulfillment network.

  • Copies then journey along the so-called "middle mile"

  • and can be redistributed to any of the hundreds

  • of smaller warehouses or nodes,

  • closer to customers in major population centers.

  • The last step is the so-called "last mile",

  • how it gets to a buyer's home.

  • The book might be sent to an Amazon delivery station

  • and put in the back of a Mercedes Sprinter van

  • and dropped off by Amazon itself

  • at the customer's front door.

  • This system, while it's a marvel of modern day logistics,

  • still relies mostly on

  • traditional combustion engine vehicles

  • for middle and last mile delivery.

  • As demand for rush delivery rises,

  • so does the number of gas guzzling trucks

  • hustling between warehouses.

  • Environmentally, it's one of the biggest issues there is

  • and you know, the quicker that the globe can

  • sort of decarbonize transportation,

  • the better it's gonna be.

  • So, if you look at

  • total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.,

  • about 28% of that is transportation

  • and of that chunk, of the 28%,

  • about a quarter of it come from medium

  • and heavy duty trucks.

  • So, middle mile and sort of long haul trucking.

  • If you really wanna move the needle on carbon emissions,

  • this is a really good place to look.

  • So, how do we solve this growing emissions problem

  • and still satisfy our addiction to same-day delivery?

  • As it turns out,

  • the size, shape,

  • and predictable limited range of these vehicles

  • makes them the perfect candidate for a solution.

  • I'm Dakota Semler.

  • I'm the CEO and co-founder of XOS Trucks.

  • So, we are a manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles.

  • We manufacture trucks that are in the class five size

  • all the way up to class eight

  • regional haul tractors

  • and those are things like the UPS

  • or FedEx step vans that you see

  • delivering packages every day.

  • We actually started this

  • because we were fleet operators ourselves.

  • We had a fleet of medium duty vehicles

  • and we saw how challenging it was becoming

  • to operate diesel vehicles.

  • The technology exists

  • to convert last mile fleets from diesel to electric.

  • Batteries and the prices of those batteries

  • have fallen dramatically in the last 10 years

  • and any routes that are around 200 miles or less

  • are really ready to make that transition.

  • So, XOS is trying to perfect the frame of the car.

  • They call it the chassis.

  • So, this is everything sort of underpinning the car,

  • the electric motors,

  • the battery pack,

  • all the battery software and cooling and technology

  • and kind of the brains of the car, if you will

  • and then, the business model is basically to sell that

  • and let the end consumer dictate what goes on top.

  • Our platform, we call the X platform.

  • UPS is using an X platform

  • with a parcel delivery van body on top of it.

  • Loomis, who operates an armored car fleet,

  • uses the same exact X platform,

  • but with an armored body on top of it.

  • XOS is currently making their modular battery packs

  • here in Los Angeles

  • and the packs can be customized for specific applications,

  • but while one big problem,

  • vehicle cost,

  • is improving, as battery prices continue to fall,

  • there's still another major hurdle at the other end.

  • The best way to describe the current state

  • of charting infrastructure in the U.S. is anemic.

  • These companies don't want to build chargers

  • unless there are electric vehicles.

  • People don't wanna buy electric vehicles

  • unless there's chargers.

  • That's a big problem for the personal EV space,

  • where range anxiety is often cited as

  • a roadblock to mass adoption,

  • but when it comes to delivery,

  • there's a much simpler solution.

  • When you think about last mile vehicles,

  • they're not operating in different bases of operation.

  • They actually returned to the same depot every single night

  • where they do their charging.

  • XOS actually has a division helping fleets

  • install that charging infrastructure.

  • These fleets will actually bring their vehicles

  • back to the yard.

  • They charge them overnight

  • and then, by the time morning rolls around

  • for their next shift,

  • those vehicles are fully charged,

  • ready to go with the infrastructure that's onsite.

  • With pilot programs up and running

  • with delivery giants UPS, FedEx and Amazon,

  • XOS is quickly becoming a major contender

  • in the electrification game,

  • but there's another enormous part of this puzzle,

  • which may end up eliminating more than just gasoline.

  • So, I'm Gautam Narang.

  • I'm the co-founder and CEO of Gatik.

  • At Gatik, we do autonomous vehicles

  • for the middle mile segment of the supply chain.

  • Again, middle mile is one step back from last mile,

  • trucking that goes from one factory or warehouse to another.

  • The middle mile is evolving at a rapid pace

  • and with the pandemic,

  • the middle mile segment of the supply chain

  • was put into high gear.

  • The prominence and the significance

  • of the middle mile is only gonna grow in the coming years.

  • So, Gatik's a really interesting company.

  • What they're doing is trying to both

  • make middle mile delivery autonomous and electric.

  • So, they're trying to move the ball in two ways here

  • and what's really interesting with them

  • is they focus specifically on certain sector of users,

  • namely large companies that have very fixed routes.

  • Just as the predictable routes

  • of shipping and delivery

  • make electrification easier,

  • they make autonomy a lot easier, too.

  • If your trucks are going the same way every single time,

  • like Gatik's,

  • that's a much easier puzzle for an AI to navigate.

  • So, what they do,

  • they find the route they need to run

  • and they agonize over it for four to six weeks,

  • just mapping it inside and out,

  • figuring out where all the trouble spots might be

  • and coding their vehicles to deal with it

  • and often,

  • they're not taking the most direct route.

  • They're taking the safest route.

  • They're taking the route that's most predictable

  • in terms of traffic.

  • There's a common understanding in the industry that

  • unprotected left turns and doing multiple lane changes

  • are some of the most trickiest problems in the EV space.

  • With middle mile, frankly,

  • you can avoid all of that.

  • You can take three right turns to make a left turn,

  • you know, a bag of potatoes won't care.

  • Gatik's ultimate goal is to provide

  • a cheaper, cleaner alternative

  • to the middle mile of today,

  • by saving money on gas and maintenance by electric motors

  • and saving money on well,

  • drivers, by going autonomous.

  • They've already sold some major players on their vision

  • and scoring Walmart as a customer

  • bodes well for the future.

  • Startups like Gatik and XOS

  • are betting that the delivery industry is ready

  • for a full on high-tech refit.

  • In a sector where only about 1% of vehicles

  • have been electrified,

  • that's a lot of potential for change.

  • The usual suspects are where you're gonna

  • see adoption come first, you know,

  • the larger, more stable companies.

  • So, Walmart, Amazon,

  • UPS, FedEx, et cetera.

  • I think you'll see them experimenting with it more

  • and the more routes

  • that they can get it to make sense on,

  • the faster adoption's gonna be.

  • And as the technology matures

  • and batteries continue to get cheaper,

  • there's another huge category of vehicles

  • that's right for this kind of an upgrade.

  • So, the Biden administration has been super aggressive

  • about a pledge to

  • electrify the entire federal vehicle fleet,

  • which is just under 700,000 vehicles.

  • What's interesting is the federal fleet is both

  • really old and really inefficient.

  • The average age of these cars and trucks

  • is about 14 years

  • and the average cost is about a dollar a mile.

  • When you add up fuel and maintenance and depreciation,

  • which are the three big ones,

  • it's a good place to look

  • if you're looking to get carbon

  • out of the transportation system.

  • While the most exciting

  • and flashy developments in the world of electric vehicles

  • are usually around personal EVs,

  • the more impactful transition

  • is happening behind the scenes.

  • So, the next time you order something online

  • and it effortlessly appears on your doorstep,

  • your package might've made

  • at least some of its hidden journey

  • without consuming an ounce of gasoline.

Have you ever been cruising on a highway

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B1 US mile delivery electric middle amazon fleet

The Way We Get Everything Is Going Electric

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/17
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