FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Testing the short-term needs for electric vehicles

DETAILS: Electrification is a learning curve for commercial fleets and OEMs. One of the leading players, Ryder System Inc. (NYSE:R), is testing the waters with electrified vehicles. Ryan Salvail, who is at the forefront of Ryder’s EV efforts, says the landscape is both embryonic and evolutionary. Production at a meaningful scale has yet to begin. There may be substantial up-front costs to convert fleets to electrification. Technologies will change rapidly, charging infrastructure will need to become top of mind, and the upskilling of technicians to service the new equipment will be required. Salvail spoke to Mark B. Solomon, senior writer at FreightWaves.

SPEAKER: Salvail is the director of advanced vehicle technology for Ryder System.

BIO: Salvail leads new and existing sales channels with Ryder’s internal and external teams, providing overall product and sales guidance in the areas of advanced vehicle technology, advanced fuel, charging infrastructure and regulatory environment for Ryder’s commercial offerings.


“Technology evolution is going to move quickly. Vehicles could look different than they do today in a short period of time.”

“I think grants and incentives are necessary for early adoption. There is definitely a premium for these vehicles.”

“When we talk to fleets, we find that the issue of [battery] charging is overlooked and often undervalued. Charging is the key to proper vehicle utilization.” 

On leaving the fossil fuel comfort zone: “Change is hard. This is a different application. However, as the performance of EVs becomes comparable to that of [internal combustion engines], we will have better use cases.”

On the challenges in training maintenance and repair technicians: “It’s yet to be seen what the maintenance demands will be on the vehicles. However, you’re going to need a high certification of tech to work on them.”