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Ohio Clean Energy Proponent Wants Stimulus Money For Electric Trucks

An Ohio non-profit wants $15 million of federal money to boost sales of electric powered commercial trucks. Clean Fuels Ohio helped demonstrate the truck to potential customers at the Ohio Department of Transportation.Clean Fuels Ohio wants to use money from the stimulus package to bring the first 150 of these all-electric trucks to Ohio.

Smith Electric Vehicles makes the trucks. They're capable of going 50 miles per hour, up to a range of 100 miles, and carrying a load of more than 8 tons. Brad Aubrey of Smith Electric Vehicles says the trucks operate without any tailpipe emissions and he says they're perfectly suited for urban stop-and-go traffic.

"Really anything you do on a diesel or gas equivalent sized vehicle, provided it falls into an urban style driving pattern, lots of starts and stops, less than 100 miles a day. You know, if it fits on that size of payload or that class of vehicle, then it would work on an all electric truck," says Aubrey.

But the cost of the truck can be prohibitive. It can cost two and a half times more than a gas or diesel powered commercial truck. So Clean Fuels Ohio wants to use federal stimulus money to help make the electric trucks more affordable for fleet buyers.

American Electric Power, Frito-Lay, and AT&T were among potential customers at the ODOT demonstration.

Some critics question whether electric vehicles are a completely environmentally friendly alternative since they must use coal-generated electric power to recharge engine batteries. But Clean Fuel Ohio spokesman Sam Spofforth cites research indicating electric vehicles pollute less.

"The way you can understand this in simple terms is: you would never be able to lay your hands on a warmed up internal combustion engine, but you can put your hands on an electric motor; it's not nearly as hot. There's a lot of inefficiency in internal combustion engines. Electric engines just make much efficient use of the energy they have," says Spofforth

Spofforth says the bid for federal stimulus money is highly competitive. There's no word yet on whether Clean Fuels Ohio will get a share of the money.

Sadie Taylor, WOSU News.