As the world waits for a usable network of electric vehicle charging stations to be as accessible as service stations are now, US electric commercial vehicle start up company, Xos , has come up with a concept that could be a valuable ‘bridge’ for large fleets spread across a large city or region where recharge infrastructure has not yet been rolled out.
Xos has come up with a transportable recharging hub, a large trailer that looks a little like a bulk goods or tipper trailer, which can be towed to a location where electric vehicles can be plugged in up to five at a time and quickly recharged.
Xos is a US based start up that has designed and has already started manufacturing commercial electric vehicles, fleet management software, and charging infrastructure to enable adoption of zero emission commercial vehicles.
Starting in 2017 Xos notably won a contract from UPS to build customised medium-duty delivery trucks as well as a similar deal with the other major parcel deliverer, FedEx, followed by a surprising deal to electrify armoured cars for Loomiss.
The company has also launched a power train unit to enable companies to create electric heavy-duty forklifts and other specialty vehicles.
In 2020 Xos raised a further $US20 million through a funding round which enabled it to scale up. Then last year it announced a merger with Next Gen which saw it listed on Nasdaq generating around $US515 million which helped the lean young truckmaker set up flexible production lines in factory space leased from contract truck building company Fitzgerald in Tennessee and partner Metalsa in Mexico.
Xos’ plans are to build about 2,000 electric trucks at the two plants this year year, up from 116 in 2021. By 2025 it plans to ship more than 30,000 trucks and generating annual revenue of more than $US5 billion. It is not clear how the 2000 truck plan is going so far in 2022, with the company announcing it has shipped just 131 of its electric commercials in the first half of 2022 up to 30 June, meaning it will have to deliver around 2069 vehicles in the second half, if it is to achieve its stated goals.
Still, with a new range of bonnet medium and heavy duty electric trucks launched earlier this year, sitting alongside the step vans it is already selling to companies like UPS and FedEx, Xos is a long way ahead of Tesla, which announced its ‘SemiTruck’ around the same time as Xos was formed in 2017, but which is still yet to be seen on the road
Xos introduced one of its first portable charging stations in the US last week and says the recharging unit can located in a parking lot or in a fleet yard that doesn’t yet have permanent charging facilities.
The unit was unveiled in California where trucks have been identified as among that state’s largest polluters. Last year California enacted a zero-emissions truck and delivery van mandate to be in force by 2024, with the goal that all trucks sold in in the state will be electric by 2045.
Xos says its goal with the recharging units, known as Xos Hubs ,is for them to be distributed widely and it hopes to persuade more fleets to adopt battery electric technology by helping to offset operator concerns that electric commercial vehicles have a short range and few charging options.
A solar array on the roof of Xos Hub powers the cloud-enabled control and safety systems. The company says that Xos Serve ‘enables fleets to deploy sizable electric vehicle fleets without the need to manage the complexity involved with such large-scale infrastructure deployments’.
Xos initially will make the Hub available for lease as a standalone offering or within its Xos’ Fleet-as-a-Service offering.
“Everything from individual state regulations, to commitments by large fleet operators to convert to zero-emission electric vehicles, to President Biden’s infrastructure plan, is pointing to electric vehicles as our future,” CEO and co-founder Dakota Semler said in the announcement.
“Fleet customers shouldn’t have to wait for traditional fixed charging stations,” Semler said.
The Hub is part of a new Xos subsidiary, Xos Energy Solutions, which will also offer Xos Serve, which it says will perform ‘site evaluations, installations and other services related to the infrastructure’.
In California, the push for zero-emission fleets at major ports including Los Angeles and Long Beach is a pressing issue with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia calling for the elimination of diesel trucks at the port by 2035. The two ports are the USA’s busiest seaport hub where thousands of diesel trucks haul billions of dollars worth of cargo but there is still little electric vehicle infrastructure.
There are more than 100 zero-emissions vehicles being tested with various partners, including Toyota, using battery electric or hydrogen power at the port.