TMC MTG Round-up: Capacity Trucks, Nikola, Aperia Tech & Viatec

Here is a round-up of announcements from the Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting. It’s a new all-time record: 5,066 attendees made it to Orlando this week.

Capacity Fuel Cell Terminal Truck

Capacity Trucks, a subsidiary of REV Group, Inc. (NYSE: REVG), debuted its new Zero Emissions Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric (H2) terminal truck at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting, Feb 27 – March 1 in Orlando, Florida.

Beginning its road to zero emissions 10 years ago, Capacity partnered with leading suppliers of alternative fuel powertrains on the engineering of new products, designed for port, intermodal and distribution/warehouse applications.

“We applied our nearly 50 years of industry leadership and worked closely with our partners to develop this ground-breaking zero emissions terminal truck,” said Wes Downing, Vice President & General Manager of Capacity Trucks. “We assessed the needs of our industry and intentionally designed features and capabilities to meet those challenges.”

Capable of handling GCVWR of up to 180,000 pounds, this advanced terminal truck is designed and expected to operate for at least one full shift before refueling. The H2 truck can be refueled in as little as 15 minutes – the same time it takes to refuel a traditional diesel truck. This next generation of yard trucks features a new look and redesigned cab as well as Capacity’s patented Dura-Ride® air ride suspension.

“Capacity’s new H2 terminal truck is a state-of-the-art addition to REV Group’s growing line of zero emissions products,” stated Brian Perry, President of Commercial Segment, REV Group. “As the heavy-duty trucking industry continues to seek out low emissions alternatives, Capacity is bringing proven products with zero emissions capabilities—all from a name you can trust.”

Nikola Selects PlusDrive

Nikola Corporation (Nasdaq: NKLA), a global leader in zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions,  announced that it has selected PlusDrive, the next generation safety system developed by Plus, for the Nikola Tre battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the hydrogen electric vehicle in the U.S. The first factory-installed Nikola Tre BEVs and hydrogen electric vehicles that will incorporate enhanced driver assistance features powered by PlusDrive will be available by the end of 2024.

“The enhanced driver assistance features are yet another differentiator of Nikola’s premium driver experience for our customers,” said Michael Lohscheller, President and CEO, Nikola Corporation. “We are one of the first OEMs to offer 100% electric steering paired with the ZF EBS braking system. This base technology in all our vehicles, combined with Nikola’s own internally developed vehicle controls, over-the-air updates and vehicle security can enable the integration of these advanced sensors and the realization of the PlusDrive safety system from Plus.”

Designed for drivers by drivers, PlusDrive offers unmatched safety, fuel efficiency, and driver comfort features. PlusDrive elevates the role of the professional driver to a pilot who supervises the system to drive on the highway. Its capabilities go far beyond basic driver assistance capabilities such as lane keeping and automatic emergency brakes. PlusDrive also handles everything from staying centered in the lane, lane changes, merges, stop-and-go traffic, and nudging, while the driver remains alert and attentive. New driving features are continuously added over-the-air without any additional truck downtime.

Together with Nikola’s base technology, PlusDrive will moderate and predict the optimal and safest speed, while also taking full advantage of regenerative braking in traffic and slowing conditions. The vehicle is expected to keep the best position within the lane and account for other large vehicles and emergency vehicles.

With PlusDrive, the Nikola Tre BEVs and hydrogen electric vehicles will come with best-in-class incident detection capabilities via the multiple cameras to be used together with short-range radar, and LiDAR. The advanced sensor suite will assist the driver to safely interact with other drivers and provide additional protection for liability mitigation.

When not in use on the highway, the Nikola Tre BEV and hydrogen electric vehicles will maintain the ability to detect obstacles and traffic in the blind spots. Other traffic, including motorcycles and pedestrians, will continue to be highlighted to provide drivers with their proximity information. The system will work in all traffic conditions, including loading docks. Pedestrian safety around the trucks is especially important as much quieter zero-emissions vehicles become a mainstay. The system will highlight pedestrians around the vehicle to help ensure safety of typical operations including loading and unloading, inspections, and charging and fueling. Safe operation during high-power charging and hydrogen fueling will also be supplemented with detection and recording features.

“We are proud to support a zero-emission future and provide the underlying safety system behind Nikola’s enhanced driver assistance features. The proven commercial readiness of our highly automated solution PlusDrive accelerates the deployment for our partners and sets a new bar for safety and sustainability for the trucking industry,” said David Liu, CEO and Co-Founder, at Plus.

Multiple fleets including PGT Trucking and Christenson Transportation have agreed to pilot the initial Nikola PlusDrive-enabled trucks which will be available in late 2023. Given the overwhelming fleet interest in the system, Nikola is establishing an Enhanced Driver Assistance Customer Council to collaborate with fleets and Plus to continue refining the system.

“PGT Trucking is committed to advancing the transportation industry through the Future of Flatbed®, strategically partnering with like-minded companies, like Nikola, to implement innovative technology and equipment into our fleet,” said Gregg Troian, PGT Trucking President. “We will actively participate in the ongoing development of the Nikola PlusDrive-enabled units, using these trucks in real-world applications, improving safety standards and enhancing the lifestyle for our drivers.”

“Christenson Transportation has and continues to invest in the safest technology available on the market to lower our carbon emissions to meet the goals of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Don Christenson, Christenson Transportation President. “The Nikola PlusDrive-enabled trucks, along with the current Nikola Tre BEV and hydrogen electric vehicle, will play a significant role in helping us achieve this vision and improve work, life balance for our drivers. We are proud to be one of the first customers to pilot these trucks this year and play an active role in the launch of this innovative technology.”

Aperia Tech Halo Connect

AperiaTechnologies Inc., a leading supplier of tire management technologies that improve the safety and efficiency of commercial vehicles, announced today the launch of Halo Connect 2.0, the latest evolution in the company’s comprehensive tire management platform.

“Dozens of trade-offs need to be considered when designing the right cradle-to-grave fleet tire management strategy,” said Josh Carter, CEO of Aperia Technologies. “Halo Connect now couples deep historical tire health insights with fleet-specific inputs to deliver transformative tire management solutions customized to each client.”

Halo Connect is a cradle-to-grave connected tire management platform that allows fleets to virtually eliminate unplanned tire-related downtime, reduce tire costs per mile, and engender driver confidence by pairing machine learning with active inflation.

“Aperia’s tire analytics engine leapfrogs existing technologies that simply provide tire pressure alerting,” continued Carter. “By considering the business and operational context necessary to deliver actionable alerting, Halo Connect enables fleets to get every cent they paid for out of their tires and tire technology investments.”

Powered by more than 50 billion miles of real-world fleet tire data, Halo Connect’s proprietary tire analytics engine uses machine learning to characterize the many interrelated and competing variables that affect and inform tire-related maintenance and strategic decisions, effectively enabling fleets to shift from flying blind with a reactive tire service model to confidently executing a proactive service model that optimizes uptime and tire maintenance cost.

Halo Connect is the only active tire management platform for all wheel positions, and the platform now includes key modules to help fleets optimize decision-making and cost across the tire lifecycle. First introduced in 2019, Halo Connect works in tandem with Halo Tire Inflator, a revolutionary automatic tire inflation system for trucks and trailers that installs in minutes. The platform is compatible with all vehicle makes and models, and is available through major OEMs, a network of partners, and directly from Aperia. With the Halo Connect Plan, Halo Connect 2.0 can be purchased as an asset or as a subscription service.

Viatec Launched SmartPX

At The 2023 Work Truck Week, Viatec is launched their newest product, SmartPX: A plug-in, all-electric alternative to gasoline or diesel generators. SmartPX is a first of its kind true electric genset that, unlike an inverter, uses a rotary generator to produce pure sine-wave 120VAC/ 240VAC power to run demanding equipment, creating a safe and quiet worksite for operators and helping organizations meet ESG goals while outperforming its combustion counterparts with the simplicity of an electric powertrain.

SmartPX was piloted on step vans for east-coast utility giant Duke Energy, collaborating with Viatec to develop its “Smart” family of products to meet fleet-level emissions goals.

“When Duke Energy approached us with the challenge of electrifying their fleet of step vans, it felt like the right fit. After a successful pilot and fleet-wide adoption of SmartPTO, we were eager to tackle a new set of challenges. Through this effort SmartPX was born,” says Mark Ferri, CEO of Viatec

During the pilot, SmartPX was installed on a Utilimaster step van upfit to supply power to an array of tools and equipment – including a rooftop HVAC unit, a 4hp trash pump used to clear water and debris, internal and external 120V outlets, an external 240V outlet for heavier equipment, and 12V power to maintain vehicle batteries. Diesel generators typically installed on these vehicles cannot be used while driving, produce noise and emissions at the jobsite, and do not survive through the service life of the vehicle. SmartPX represents both, an overall improvement in performance, and a lifecycle that is 2-3 times longer than the genset it replaces.

SmartPX was designed with crews in mind, powering cab comfort, phone chargers, and appliances effectively – everything keeping crews comfortable on the jobsite. Recharge overnight with a standard 120V outlet at an operations center or residentially. SmartPX can also be recharged quicker using a Level II EV charger.

Viatec has worked with utility providers and vocational truck manufacturers to produce systems that fast-track fleet electrification. In 2019, Viatec successfully took their ePTO, SmartPTO to market and are today an industry standard in this technology. Their products allow fleet managers to reach emissions goals, eliminate worksite emissions, and extend the lives of their vehicles. Viatec’s efforts to enable Zero Emission Worksites™ continue with SmartPX.

Phoenix Motor Qualifies for Tax Credit

Phoenix Motor Inc. (the “Company” or “Phoenix”) (Nasdaq: PEV), a leader in manufacturing of all-electric, medium-duty vehicles, announced the company is now a qualified manufacturer for the commercial clean vehicle credit under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Phoenix Motorcars’ all-electric commercial vehicle models weighing greater than 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) are eligible for up to $40,000 in tax credits. Tax credits for vehicles weighing less than 14,000 pounds GVWR are available up to $7,500.

On Jan. 1, 2023, the commercial clean vehicle credit became available to businesses and tax-exempt organizations for the purchase of new electric vehicles to incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles and support domestic production. Currently, there is no limit on the number of tax credits a business can claim.