Shore 'nuff?

By Charlie Morasch, contributing writer

For the past 11 years, Shorepower Technologies has seen new truck parking electrification efforts installed at 62 of its own locations and more than 100 nationwide.

The company has watched emissions and fuel mileage rules influence the addition of trailer side skirts and low-rolling-resistance tires, while APUs, battery pack and other key-off systems have trended upward and down.

Because electricity is cheaper than idling, and even less expensive than an APU, many expected plug-in electric to become a market leader. The ebb and flow of high diesel prices, the economic downturn in the mid-2000s, and government stimulus cash provided a wave that helped electrification, one Shorepower executive told Land Line.

The industry’s trend remains upward, but it has slowed.

“We’ve seen incremental growth in utilization but we’re far from being mainstream,” Alan Bates, vice president of marketing for Shorepower. “There is momentum, and there is interest in our service. But the big thing is and always has been the chicken and egg thing. There is a lack of infrastructure. We have yet to reach critical mass.”

Shorepower has spoken to a baker’s dozen of large motor carriers, surveying them on technology they’ve adapted. Bates said electric plug-in use by large trucking companies is “extremely low or nonexistent.”

“When they want to adopt a technology, they don’t want to do it on two trucks or 10 trucks,” Bates said. “They want to do it on a thousand. They want to be assured the drivers in the system can use it.”

Owner-operators make up an estimated 90 percent of Shorepower’s customer base, Bates said.

“They’re the ones that can benefit from the savings immediately,” Bates said. “The fleet driver doesn’t care; he’s being compensated either way. The owner-operator is the one who can use the system from day one and save money.”

Shorepower believes its service will become mainstream when drivers have between

300 and 500 locations in which to choose from.

“The business model works when there are 300 sites,” Bates said. “But when there is 62, there is still an adoption curve you’ve got to deal with. There is a lot of hit and miss when it comes to finding electrification infrastructure. We haven’t yet reached a network of critical mass.”

A national chain has expressed interest in bringing an additional 350 Shorepower sites nationally, Bates said, though the company would have to fund such an expansion.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to find capital for construction,” he says. “We don’t have the capital to just go out and build 350 locations. That’s the linchpin right now.” LL