Assessing the Role of Truck-as-a-Service in California’s Zero-emission Transition

Research Team: Stephen G. Ritchie (lead), Youngeun Bae, and Craig Rindt

UC Campus(es): UC Irvine

Problem Statement: California has set ambitious goals to transition all drayage trucks to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035 and, where feasible, transition the remaining medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (M/HDVs) to ZEVs by 2045. However, ZEV adoption in the M/HDV sector has been slow, primarily due to significant challenges faced by fleet operators. These challenges include the high initial expenses associated with vehicle acquisition and the construction of fueling/charging infrastructure. They also involve the complexities of infrastructure installation and maintenance, along with concerns about the operational and financial risks linked to ZEVs. These barriers can be particularly acute for specific fleet segments, notably those with limited physical space for charging/fueling facilities or those characterized by lower risk tolerance, a common trait among smaller fleets and owner-operators. To address these barriers effectively, it is necessary to explore innovative solutions for ZEV procurement, beyond conventional buying or leasing methods. Accordingly, the Innovative Small e-Fleet Program by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) supports such solutions, including flexible leases, short-term rentals, Truck-as-a-Service (TaaS), and other mechanisms. TaaS is an application of a “servitized” business model where customers pay for the service on a per-use basis, encompassing both the usage of trucks and the associated fueling/charging. The servitized model has the potential to reduce the total cost of ownership; however, the implications of TaaS on the transition to zero-emission M/HDVs is unknown.

Project Description: This research aims to comprehensively assess the role of TaaS in California’s ZEV transition from various perspectives. By enhancing an existing tool created by the research team in a previous project and by leveraging fleet survey and interview data from ongoing projects, this project will explore diverse TaaS offerings. The researchers will assess their cost-effectiveness across fleet segments and analyze long-term implications on the overall fleet transition. Equity and job considerations will also be addressed as well, with a focus on equity issues for disadvantaged fleets and implications for job creation and worker training. The research findings will fill a knowledge gap and generate practical insights for promoting ZEV adoption through innovative solutions.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $100,000