That's because the California Energy Commission (CEC) program has approved a $2.2 million grant to get around a dozen vehicles into work fleets around the state. The grant pays for a portion of the truck and each participant in the program will get to keep the trucks after the two-year program is done. Each truck is being purpose-built, and Serio said that movie studios and catering companies would be ideal customers for the electric vehicles (EVs). The idea, Serio said, is to get data on how the trucks are charged and driven and then be able to show possible future buyers that there are companies that have been using the trucks for 24 months.
ZeroTruck has been around for a while. After being unveiled at AFVI in 2008, the first one was delivered to the City of Santa Monica in 2009. The truck's technology continues to evolve, with ZeroTruck now working with two unnamed wireless charging companies to add that option to the powertrain package. Right now, you can order a Zerotruck with 30-, 60- or 90-kWh battery packs (which offer, roughly, 60, 80 or 110 miles, respectively). The prices range between $115,000 to $180,000. A comparable ICE truck costs between $65,000 and $85,000.
Right now, ZeroTrucks come with a base, three-gear, electronically controlled transmission. ZeroTruck has received a $120,000 grant from the state of Pennsylvania and Ben Franklin Technology Partners to develop a continuous variable transmission (CVT) that should increase the efficiency of these big EVs. Serio said that low gear is useful to move the heavy trucks (with around a 14,500-pound gross vehicle weight) around a parking lot, but since the truck might then need to go 60 or 70 miles per hour on the highway for a few dozen miles, higher gears will pump up the miles per pack. It should take around two years to get the CVT ready, Serio said.