As soon as Amped co-host and Fleet Equipment Director of Content Jason Morgan stamped his ticket to the 2022 ACT Expo in Long Beach, Calif., I knew we weren’t going to be able to let him go at it alone. So I crawled into his backpack and stowed away across the country to join him in witnessing the reveal of all the latest mind-bending decarbonization technologies and sustainability-driving services the trucking world has to offer.
Well, it wasn’t me personally in that backpack, it was a camera. But while Jason was there he was kind enough to show me around the show floor – and now, you too! Check out the video above to see get a sneak peek of some of the cool electrified technologies coming soon to the trucking world.
Editor’s Note: During the show, I stumped Jason with a question on Xos‘s new medium-duty and heavy-duty truck availability. Here’s the answer: The new chassis cab product will be hitting production in Q1 of next year, and then the tractor product will be later in 2023, according to Dakota Semler, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Xos.
Here’s the transcript of the show:
David Sickels: Hi, and welcome back to the Amped EV Podcast. My name is David Sickles, I’m the editor for The Buzz. And this week we’ve got something special for you. So, typically we film our show here in Akron, Ohio, you can see beautiful Akron here. But, Jason Morgan, the co-host of this show and the content director for Fleet Equipment, he is out in the state of California. He’s in long beach, California, and he is at Act Expo. Well, it’s a trucking show. It’s a alternative fuels show. There’s a lot of electrification, a lot about, CNG Fuel, a lot about all different things, hybrid systems. He’s going to give us a look at the show floor. I can’t wait to see what he gets to see there. I’m very jealous that I have to hold down the fort here, but this is going to be a really cool little window into what he gets to experience. So, let’s check it out.
David Sickels: Jason. Hi, it’s so good to see you. I felt lost without you. Thanks for joining us today from California. Tell me what you’re seeing. What is that? An international truck behind you?
Jason Morgan: That is right David. Oh, my gosh, I am out at ACT Expo, it’s happening. If we could, there’s that, we need that, it’s happening meme. If, Ashley could put that in. It’s happening, I’m at ACT Expo. I have an international RH, so the Regional Hall series, from International. But, it’s fully electric. And the fun part is, I know nothing about this truck, no one does. They just dropped it off here. It’s right next to their Next Experience Trailer back there.
David Sickels: Oh man, I love that.
Jason Morgan: I had a chance to talk with their president, CEO, Mathias Carlbaum, yesterday. And he said they are not making any announcement. He did confirm that it’s an RH and that it is electric. Let me give you a little closer look here, just to show it off, but I know very little about it. So, that’s about the extent of all I know about the International RH Electric. I assume we’ll learn more as Navistar rolls out more. Are you ready to hit the floor? I’ll take you inside.
David Sickels: Yeah, absolutely. Show us what’s going on.
Jason Morgan: Here we go, let’s go. We’re going inside, it’s happening.
David Sickels: So, what has attendance been like there?
Jason Morgan: Yeah. So, this show, now you have to remember last year, the show was in August. It had about 4,000 attendees and we were just coming out of the pandemic and that, or we were still in it. The vaccines were rolling out. And it was full mask. It was the first show, really, even that I had been to, at that time, 4,000 people. So, it’s about nine months later. Attendance is well over 8,000 people at the show. So, it is double in nine months.Jason Morgan: Yesterday was packed. Today, we’re still pretty early here, but still very busy, very busy. So, we just entered the show. We were out the Ride & Drive area. That’s where Navistar’s next trailer is. And so, we’re coming in the back of the show here. I did want to stop here and show you all this. So, this is XOS. They announced a class eight truck last night and a medium duty truck, in addition to their chassis-cab delivery chassis, that’s on display here. The event last night was an offsite thing. We had the story on fleet for that, but big news there, entering the Class 8 market.
David Sickels: Yeah. New manufacturer, that’s huge. That doesn’t happen every day.
Jason Morgan: Yeah, that’s right. And they partnered with Allison on the eAxle. So, an established name working with a new name, very cool.
David Sickels: Absolutely, yeah.
Jason Morgan: Showing off the Meritor booth here. Their axles are everywhere here at the show, along with Dana. Lots of great axle action here.
Jason Morgan: I’m just walking around here. So, speaking of Dana, we got Dana over there.
David Sickels: Okay.
Jason Morgan: Peterbilt showing off their electric vehicles. You got the refuse vehicle. But, they do have a new… This is actually a sales demo. 579 EV, just a cool looking truck. Look at that-
David Sickels: Oh, very cool. Are you seeing a lot of hybrids as well there?
Jason Morgan: Well, you’re speaking of hybrids, there’s Hyliion, right? hybrids are a… I wouldn’t say, hybrids, right? I mean, yes, they’re hybrid powertrains, but one of the biggest talking points at this show, is how the future is going to be a choice of fuels, right? You’re not going to get one energy source. It’s not going to be battery, or electric, it’s not going to be 100% hydrogen, that it’s going to be a fuel for the application.
Jason Morgan: So, you’re going to see a lot more. I’ll take it around here, you’ll see a lot more. Just showing off the Mack LR Electric Refuse Truck.
Jason Morgan: They made some announcements here yesterday. I have some new customer orders for it. So, that is rolling large.
David Sickels: Absolutely, that’s awesome.
Jason Morgan: Real quick, one of the other things we’re diversifying into, we got Waymo here.
David Sickels: Waymo. What does Waymo do?
Jason Morgan: So, they do autonomous trucking, automated driving, right? And there are numerous automated driving companies here. That conversation is starting to spill over into the electric vehicle space. So, a lot more autonomous talk here. I’m going to swing over here to Volvo trucks. They have their autonomous truck in the booth. They’re working with a company named Aurora. So, they’re showing that off. So, it’s not just about electrification here. It’s a lot of new technologies, very cool.
David Sickels: Is Volvo’s autonomous truck also electrified?
Jason Morgan: It is not yet, this is a diesel truck.
David Sickels: Okay.
Jason Morgan: So, there it is, that’s the autonomous truck. I believe those are LIDAR sensors up there, on those wings.
David Sickels: Yeah.
Jason Morgan: Right? And they have the Aurora driver, which is the virtual driver, the brain’s behind it.
David Sickels: Yeah.
Jason Morgan: Of course, they do have their electric VNR here as well. Big announcements on more customer orders here. Caught up with Peter Voorhoeve, President. I’ll have a video interview with him, later on, catching up on the news, but more VNR is going into the market. They also have this really cool… Now, this is a blast from my past. I used to write for a construction publication to cover that market. That is a fully electric mini excavator.
David Sickels: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so cool. Are you seeing more vehicles, like this mini excavator here, showing their faces at shows like this? Is electrification branching out into some of these different areas that we haven’t seen so much before?
Jason Morgan: Well, yes, but I would say that, this isn’t becoming a machine show, right? I think, Volvo’s point of bringing here was showing how the global Volvo Group is electrifying across a lot of brands and a lot of segments that they work in. So, it is more just, showing off that the technology spills into other areas within that company.
David Sickels: Interesting. So, as you’re walking the show floor here, what has been the big announcements that have really caught your ear while you’ve been there? What’s been the big theme?
Jason Morgan: Yeah. So, well, I mean, as an overall theme, like I mentioned earlier, it’s really about fuel choice. So, there’s a lot of renewable diesel, hydrogen, hydrogen, and ice engines. It’s really, the conversation has moved to how are we going to get there? I really feel like this is the year that reality came to ACT Expo, if last year was the coming out party for battery-electric. This year is really like, “Okay, it’s happening now? Now, how do we take it and do this at scale?”
David Sickels: Yeah.
Jason Morgan: So, you’re seeing a lot of different fuel sources. I did just want to point out behind me here, again, another cool look at the Navistar MV, the electric EMV. It’s a medium duty truck. The coolest thing here. I mean, last time they had it, we’ve seen the box truck configuration, but here we got a dump flatbed-type body on it. It’s just cool that you’re starting to see, it’s not just demo trucks that people are rolling out. It’s very clearly, trucks built for an application. So, it feels much more like a truck show, rather than a technology demo here this year.
David Sickels: Really interesting. Yeah, yeah. It really kind of brings to life this technology, you can actually see this thing driving down your street.
Jason Morgan: Yeah, for sure. Well, and speaking of that, even just driving around Long Beach, because I booked a hotel too late, so I’m really far out there. So, I’m spending a lot of time on the Long Beach highways and you see natural gas trucks, you see CNG trucks. I haven’t spotted an electric one yet, but I’m keeping my eye out, because they are driving around the port here.
Jason Morgan: I did just want to show off. We have the HINO hydrogen fuel cell truck. We’ve seen this before, but still very cool, right?
David Sickels: Yeah.
Jason Morgan: You see a lot more people kicking the tires on these types of technologies. Let’s look under the hood real quick, just to get a look at the fuel cell, I thought. So, there you go. Fuel cell in action.
Okay. So, I know what I’m looking at there. That’s very, very cool. It does not look like your typical diesel engine.
Jason Morgan: No. So, right next door is Hyzon, they also do hydrogen. They manufacture their own fuel cells. Here’s a fuel cell out of the tray.
David Sickels: Okay, okay. Yeah, very cool. It’s pretty, somehow. It’s very pretty.
Jason Morgan: Yeah, they make them look really nice. They make them look really nice.
David Sickels: Incredible. I don’t have the engineering background to know all the different gadgets there, but that’s pretty amazing.
Jason Morgan: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And I’m just learning about it too. Lots to learn about here. Allison too, made a lot of announcements about their eAxle. They opened manufacturing for that last year. And this year they made an announcement that they are working with Xos. So, we saw them earlier. This is the axle that’s powering Xos’s heavy duty platform.
David Sickels: Very cool. Did Xos happen to say when they are expecting trucks to start coming off the line?
Jason Morgan: Yeah, that is a good question. I can’t remember off the top of my head. I know that we have the news up on fleet right now and I’ve got an interview with their CEO that I’ve got to go through here. So, I will find out.
David Sickels: Oh, excellent.
Jason Morgan: Let me run over here. Because, one of the other cool things to see, right? Talking about hydrogen, let’s stop into the Shell booth real quick. Let’s see if I can get in here. I mean, it’s packed, trying to get through some of these booths, it’s crazy too. So, we’ve seen a lot of charging infrastructure over the years here ACT, but there is a hydrogen fueling station.
David Sickels: Oh, so cool. That was actually going to be one of my next questions for you. Are you seeing a lot of charging manufacturers, hydrogen companies here? Obviously, we’re looking at Shell here. So, that answers my question, but how many of these types of companies have boots here?
Jason Morgan: Yeah, a lot. A lot. So, I ran into Richmore earlier, who we talked to from ChargePoint earlier this year. ChargePoint’s here, Tritium is here. A lot of the big names there, of course, you saw a minute ago, I’ll show you again too, over at the Kenworth booth, they have their PACCAR branded charger, right? Daimler has their Detroit Charger. So, lots of charging talk going on here. Penske has been a big, big presence here at the show. They got the electric Ford Transit here.
David Sickels: Very cool. And obviously, over the past six months, or so they’ve made a lot of electrification announcements, that they’re adopting a lot of these trucks into their fleet. So, very cool to see them there as well.
Jason Morgan: Yeah, yeah. Right next door, Daimler Truck, North America. So, the big news for them, was they launched the Freightliner Cascadia. The production series model. So, they’ve been working on this for a long time. The order books are open. This thing’s going to start running off the line here late this year, early next, but it’s a Class 8 truck. They’re calling a typical range of 230 miles. Typical range, meaning that, if there’s a bell curve, that’s a scatter shot that most applications in short-haul, this will go into.
Jason Morgan: So, I’ve got a lot of video on this that I’m going through. Get lots of deep dives to go into the technology. They’re showing off their Detroit eFill Systems right next door.
Let’s see if I can give you a look at hood here.
David Sickels: One of my favorite things about what I’m seeing here, is that everything that you’re showing off, there’s about 200 other people trying to take pictures, take video. Everyone’s interested in this stuff, it’s very cool to see.
Jason Morgan: Oh yeah. I mean it’s crazy. The show floor’s packed. So, also news of the show, the show is moving to Anaheim next year.
David Sickels: Oh, Anaheim? Interesting.
Jason Morgan: So, that’s a Freightliner, Class 8, eCascadia, very cool. We have a lot of info coming down the line on that. The eM2 as well. They have their medium-duty platform. That’s fully electric. One thing I did want to show you…
Jason Morgan: Now, this is off the beaten path a little bit, but we’re talking sustainability here. Cummins is here. This is a really cool display. So, they have their hydrogen-powered truck here. This is a Kenworth. They made an announcement late last night, press release came through with a partnership with Daimler Trucks, North America on hydrogen, that we’ll talk about more. But, this right here, is a hydrogen, internal-combustion engine.
David Sickels: What?
Jason Morgan: So, it’s the Cummins XO.
David Sickels: Oh, that’s cool.
Jason Morgan: So, this is what they announced earlier this year, in so far as the red part of the engine block will remain the same, right? So, on Cumins engines, that white part is the fuel system and fuel delivery system that they can change out, depending on if it’s diesel, natural gas. This is hydrogen, in this case.
David Sickels: Holy cow. That is very, very cool. Is this technology coming out anytime soon? Is this a early production model? Is this being worked on as we speak here?
Jason Morgan: Yeah. So, availability isn’t quite yet. But, this will be rolling into production. This is one of the things that I definitely want to do a follow-up story on, because honestly, I don’t know a lot about it, but I did have a conversation earlier briefly, with some Cummins people that, in terms of emissions, right? There are still some emissions, like natural gas. Small amount of emissions, smaller than diesel, obviously. But, since it’s an internal combustion engine, you’re still getting emissions. There would still have to be some after-treatment, again, to get it down, just keep pushing the system down. But, an idea, and again, this is just me speculating, because I don’t know what any of this new stuff means, and we’re all trying to figure it out. But, a stepping stone, if you will, until fuel cells are ready for prime time, right? So, if you’re a fleet, you want to move the hydrogen, you want to work on the infrastructure part of it, figure out how you’ll get your fuel. You can go with someone like a Cummins. I mean, everyone knows Cummins, everyone runs Cummins.
David Sickels: Yes.
Jason Morgan: They’re an industry staple. So, you can get that technology in there. It’s fueled with hydrogen. And so, when fuel cells are ready to go, ready for prime time, the switch isn’t as tremendous, because you’re doing it now with the XO.
David Sickels: Stepping stone was the exact phrase that came to mind for me as well. And it’s really interesting to see this non-traditional hybrid system. I mean, when you think hybrid, a certain thing comes to mind, certainly not a diesel-hydrogen system, but it’s still hybrid and it’s really cool to see this technology coming out of a show like this.
Jason Morgan: Well, and you mentioned a good point that, that Cummins engine could be a hybrid, or it could not be a hybrid in the sense of, you could put it into a typical power train and it’s an ice engine. So, it’ll just power it, just like a diesel would. So, you would-
David Sickels: True.
Jason Morgan: Not be dealing with an electric power train. But, again, maybe that’s a choice manufacturers start offering, right? Maybe, it’s the power generator that fills batteries like, what Hyliion is doing over there with natural gas. We had a video on that not too long ago. And, I mean, there are lots of possibilities. And I think, one of the coolest things at the show, is that there’s an understanding of how complicated it all is and how applications are going to drive different solutions, different fuel times, right?
David Sickels: True.
Jason Morgan: I mean, here we got Hexagon, they made an announcement yesterday, too. We got CNG, right? Like I said, I’ve seen CNG trucks rolling around here at the port, through and from the port.
David Sickels: Very cool.
Jason Morgan: So, yeah. Lot’s really cool going on. I don’t know. That’s about it. Anything else you want to see?
David Sickels: Jason, this has already been overload to my brain, so I really appreciate you showing us around. I can’t imagine how much more that you’ve seen, that you can’t even show us right now. So, I just want to thank you for bringing us a little window into ACT Expo this year. It’s been a lot of fun.
Jason Morgan: No. Yeah, for sure. And I would echo that. We’re just churning through lots of meetings here. I’m about to run to another one. Glad we could take the time and connect here and talk about what’s going on. But, man, there’s going to be a lot to talk about on AMPED probably forever, I think forever. Because, it’ll take forever, just to get through everything going on here, this year.
David Sickels: Job security.
Jason Morgan: Yeah, that’s right. And we got Anaheim next year. So, David, thanks for checking in. This has been awesome. I’ll see you back in the office.
David Sickels: Take care.
David Sickels: Wow. Okay, well that was very cool. I’m still processing a lot of what Jason said. I can’t wait to talk about it in more detail, especially when we learn a lot more information about a lot of these things. I saw a lot of school buses behind him. I’d love to talk about that sometime. Can’t wait to get back together with Jason and figure out the details there. So, we will talk to you next time. Thanks a lot for tuning in.