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Schneider among first to deploy large fleet of electric semitrucks

ASHWAUBENON – Schneider is about to find out how far electric trucks can take the company toward its goal of cutting carbon emissions.  

The Green Bay area-based logistics giant will operate one of the largest fleets of battery electric semi-trucks in the industry beginning in 2022. A grant will help the company to buy 50 Freightliner-manufactured battery-electric trucks and put them into daily operation at an intermodal freight transfer station in Southern California.  

The deployment will be one of the first large-scale tests of battery powered electric semis’ current capabilities in the nation. It is a technological leap forward that the logistics industry hasn’t seen since the late 1980s when truck engines added electronic controls, said Rob Reich, Schneider’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer.  

“I would compare it to when engines first became electronic. This is such a significant step in truck technology I think it does absolutely stand out,” Reich said. “This, to me, is one of those types of significant events, from a technology standpoint, that everybody involved will remember.”

Ashwaubenon-based Schneider received a grant to purchase and deploy 50 Freightliner eCascadia trucks, seen here, as part of its intermodal fleet in Southern California. The zero emission trucks have a range of 250 miles, according to Freightliner.

The moment is not lost on Freightliner, either. Alexander Voets, the company’s E-Mobility product marketing manager, said electrification of commercial truck fleets has gained a lot more traction in the industry since 2018, when the company unveiled two battery-electric models, the class 8 eCascadia and medium-duty eM2

“Now, we’re at the tipping point,” Voets said. “It’s a much more accepted reality that we’re moving forward with electrification in the trucking industry.”