J.B. Hunt Adds 5 Electric Trucks to Final Mile Division

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell announced Wednesday that it has added five Fuso eCanter all-electric medium-duty box trucks to its private fleet, the first electric vehicles in company history. 

"These trucks may be silent, but they speak loudly of our dedication to creating a more sustainable transportation system," President and CEO John Roberts said in a news release. "Our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and improve efficiency stretch across the supply chain, from intermodal load conversion to enhancing the aerodynamics and safety of our fleet. This latest addition brings that effort to the last mile and directly to the consumer’s doorstep."

Craig Harper, the company’s COO, presented two of the trucks in front of J.B. Hunt headquarters Wednesday morning. He said the trucks were received by the company last month but declined to say how much they cost.

Harper said the trucks would be used in "final mile" delivery of bulky items such as furniture and appliances. The trucks will be used in Santa Fe Springs, California, and Houston.

"We'll be using it in dense locations where we can go out and return back and charge when needed," Harper said. "It's going to allow us to really see how electric can play into the operation. Then we'll go from there and see what other opportunities we have for electric."

Harper said the company didn't have a set time frame to determine the effectiveness of the electric campaign. He said the company drivers who have driven the electric truck — Harper said he has test driven one as well — love the quiet engine compared to those of standard or manual transmission trucks.

"It's quite impressive," Harper said. "With the electric truck, as soon as you put your foot on the pedal, you start having acceleration. It's truly a neat effect."

Harper said the trucks can be recharged one of two ways. A slow charge system take eight hours to fully recharge the battery, while a fast charge takes 1-2 hours to recharge 80 percent of the battery. Harper said the trucks will begin operations with a couple weeks after the company’s centers in Santa Fe Springs and Houston are outfitted for them.

According to the publicly traded logistics company (Nasdaq: JBHT), the trucks have zero tailpipe emissions, eliminating the noise and carbon footprint of traditional trucks. The company said that, compared to conventional diesel models, operating costs for the eCanter can be as much as $2,000 lower for each 12,000 miles driven. 

On a full charge, the truck has a driving range of up to 80 miles, while Harper said the general range will be 60-80 miles. The company said it's ideal for inner-city final mile delivery. 

Justin Palmer, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc., said his company is the first major truck manufacturer to release a series-produced all-electric truck.

"The eCanter demonstrates that the future of electric trucks is very possible and is no longer a prototype but a real truck delivering real goods daily," he said.