Joshua Gwózdz, Social Media Specialist at Truck Parts Solutions, based in the US, looks at electric motorized vehicles (EMVs) and what they could mean for the future of the auto recycling industry.
Electric Motorized Vehicles or EMVs are nothing new to the world, the concept is just a little bit more feasible now. The idea of a zero-emissions vehicle appeals to many people concerned about climate change. However, up until the last couple of years, you may have only seen electric cars like Teslas or prototype utility vans in your city. But now, as more companies take the leap into the electric vehicle market, some groups are setting their sights on a bigger target: The Heavy Trucking Industries.
Everything from truck driving itself, to heavy parts recycling businesses are on the precipice of a huge innovation that could have lasting effects on their industries. These effects are not all positive. In fact, many see the rapid introduction of EMVs as a threat to the businesses based on traditional transportation means.
For starters, the vast majority of the world does not have the required infrastructure to maintain the current uptake in electric vehicle use. If every person driving a fuel-powered vehicle decided to go electric, there wouldn’t be enough power to charge all the vehicles. As such, we’d need more power, which means we need to generate more to meet demand. All too similar to our current situation with fossil fuels. Reliance on one type of energy simply replaces the current shortage with a different one.
That’s not to say that a gradual uptake of EMVs would be any more or less detrimental, but at least a slower growth rate is easier to maintain. A great example is Bologna, Italy. Where, in 2018, the government gave a vast amount of money to the startup company BETTERY, and tasked with making it more practical to drive an electric car in Italy. However, despite a large amount of funding and public support, the entire project fell through.
The project failed for a key reason: there wasn’t any incentive to drive an electric vehicle. BETTERY had provided plans to build public charging stations across the country, yet once the stations were built, things like longer charging times, few stations and long travel distances dissuaded many potential buyers.
That’s not to touch on the practicality of electric application in things like long-haul trucking either. Most battery-powered trucks have a significantly shorter range than traditional trucks when it comes to distance traveled. That being said, long-haul trucking being a zero-emission industry is still a long way away.
Most of the heavy EMVs you’ll see now will likely be operating within larger cities, serving the role of buses, garbage trucks, delivery or maintenance vans and even construction equipment. Small fleets of EMVs are more sustainable in terms of infrastructure, but they still draw their fuel from electricity, which many places across the world are short on.
Innovations in fuel cell technology are promising in terms of efficiency and clean energy, yet their cost makes them impractical for implementation in most trucks. Speaking of practicality, many advocates for EMVs are unaware of the industries that will be heavily impacted by such a rapid transition. Among those are large portions of the truck–recycling industry.
The truck recycling industry isn’t just scrapping rigs for the metal or one or two parts like a transmission or engine, it’s recycling on a large scale, where everything from the seat fabric to the wiring in the dash console is repaired and pressed back into service. Anything and everything that can be recycled is recycled. Anything that cannot be salvaged gets sent to the proper location for disposal. In 2021 alone, Truck Parts Inventory (TPI) saved over 45 million pounds of steel from heading to landfills or junkyards.
The impact of switching to EMVs is mainly due to the fact that industries like truck recycling will not be able to stay afloat with the change. The new EMVs have specific parts that are unique to the year and build, which means a part from an electric Cummins drivetrain built in 2022, won’t have interchangeable parts like they have had for the past decade.
That doesn’t mean that the parts aren’t out there, but it means that anyone who needs parts for their 2022 e-drivetrain has to go to the original manufacturer, because salvage yards and recyclers can’t get their hands on them. That effectively cuts out a massive portion of the industry, which relies on transport groups and fleets to buy the used parts from them at a lower price.
While it might not seem like a big issue now, with the industry moving towards more electric transport, it’s only a matter of time until there are more electric vehicles than fuel-powered ones. More electric vehicles mean more consumer reliance on large corporations to provide the parts to maintain them. Fewer parts for recyclers means fewer people coming to them, and effectively it undermines their businesses.
So, the precipice our industry currently stands on is one of uncertainty. The innovations in electric vehicles are currently only beneficial to their creators. Whether or not they will prove beneficial to the public and recycling industry remains to be seen.
To learn more about Truck Parts Inventory (TPI), visit truckpartsinventory.com