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Terminal Tractors: Ideal Candidates for Electrification in the Freight Industry


  • Terminal tractors ideal for fleet electrification, says NACFE director.

  • Electric drayage vehicles beneficial for companies like OK Produce.

  • Benefits include lower range anxiety and improved energy efficiency.

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) Industry Engagement Director, Dave Schaller, shared 10 electric truck case studies during a recent webinar by Charged. These real-world examples illustrate the benefits different companies are experiencing with electric vehicle (EV) deployment, shedding light on the burgeoning field of commercial fleet electrification.

Among the highlighted applications, terminal tractors stand out as a prime example for electrification. These specialized vehicles are used for moving cargo within ports and logistics centers. Referred to as drayage vehicles or yard goats, they’re becoming an increasingly common sight in discussions about EV implementation in the transport sector.

Dave Schaller emphasizes the uniqueness of terminal tractors, suggesting they should be the first option for fleets considering electrification. This reflects a growing consensus within the industry regarding the suitability of these vehicles for electric propulsion.

One of the companies moving forward with electrification is OK Produce in Fresno, California. With an operation reliant on uptime due to the perishable nature of their products, the company is turning to electric drayage vehicles as part of its strategy to maintain efficient and reliable deliveries.

Schaller notes that terminal tractors are ideal for electrification because of their limited travel distance within facilities, often less than a quarter-mile, and the frequent transport of empty trailers. The low load on their engines does not allow the diesel engine exhaust systems to reach optimal temperatures for effective operation, making electric alternatives much more efficient and environmentally friendly.

With benefits including reduced range anxiety due to constant proximity to charging stations and the potential for opportunity charging, electric terminal tractors are portrayed as a smart choice for fleet operators. OK Produce has embraced this approach with 17 Freightliner eCascadias using fast charging, and 3 Orange EV terminal tractors with Level 2 charging, complemented by a significant investment in solar power and battery storage to support their electric fleet.

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