Originally published on UPS Longitudes.

Time is of the essence for developing electric vehicles. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone.

The commercial transportation industry is evolving at breakneck speeds in an attempt to keep up with ever-tightening emissions regulations and rising demand for zero-emissions solutions.

But if we’re going to dramatically transform the world of transportation through widespread electric vehicle adoption, we can’t work in silos.

As a recent McKinsey study points out, collaboration and “arrangements that reach beyond the traditional borders of the truck industry” are essential for supporting necessary fundamental shifts in the commercial vehicle ecosystem. The competitors of today might just be the partners of tomorrow.

We need to get EVs on the road and the necessary charging infrastructure in place so fleets can modernize. Startups innovating in that space are tackling a huge degree of complexity and can benefit by tapping into some of the structure put in place by incumbents.

Below are four key reasons collaboration is essential for the future of commercial transportation:

  • This is a tremendously capital-intensive industry, and it’s unrealistic to think one company (especially startups) can absorb innovation costs.
  • Legacy companies often lack the freedom and flexibility required to innovate but have tremendous resources at their disposal.
  • The industry is large enough (and growing rapidly) to allow for strategic collaboration without risking cannibalization.
  • The intense regulatory environment is outpacing industry players’ abilities to respond fast enough.

Marrying technologies

With those realities in mind, Thor Trucks is thrilled at the opportunity to marry our innovative battery technology and electric chassis platform with UPS’s unparalleled fleet expertise in developing our Class 6 last-mile delivery van.

Our experience working closely with the UPS team every step of the way has offered invaluable knowledge sharing and a perfect example of what effective collaboration can yield.

Fleet electrification will take creativity and innovation at every level to support widespread successful deployments. Collaboration between fleets, government, utilities, suppliers and beyond will allow us to develop pragmatic solutions for short- and long-term electrification that not only makes sense for the environment and public health but also for a fleet’s bottom line.

This is how Thor Trucks is approaching the process:

Vehicle Development

We’re aware of the challenges companies face when developing electric solutions in a silo. This awareness encouraged Thor to leverage a partnership approach with top suppliers, maintenance providers and assembly partners so we could focus on engineering our industry-leading battery technology.

As a result of this collaborative process, we’ve scaled quickly and delivered innovative, deployable solutions for our clients.

Not facing the pressure to vertically integrate, Thor developed a versatile and powerful modular electric powertrain – customizable for endless vocational applications in a short period of time.

Fleet Integration and Maintenance

We work hand in hand with fleets to craft deployment plans that make sense for their duty cycles, infrastructure and internal resources.

We develop a rich understanding of a fleet’s operations so we can deliver a solution that seamlessly integrates with their existing fleet and meets the demands of their business.

This also includes working with internal maintenance teams on training and education – in addition to establishing partnerships with third-party service providers to support a successful deployment.

Charging and Infrastructure

When considering an electric vehicle deployment of any size, questions surrounding utility service upgrades and charging infrastructure will always come into play.

This is why we bridge the gap between utilities and fleets, working with both parties to determine ideal deployment locations, necessary facility and utility upgrades and the most efficient yet cost-effective charging solutions that fit the fleet’s unique demands.

Government and Incentives

A widespread understanding of the benefits of getting more EVs on the road at both the state and federal level has spurred significant funding opportunities across the United States. Fleets are interested in taking advantage of these early-adopter incentives while they’re available. We help them both understand and maximize those opportunities.

This includes extensive collaboration with relevant governmental agencies and building out a team of internal policy experts here at Thor that can help advise and facilitate incentive opportunities for the fleets of the future.

Time is of the essence, and this is not a challenge to face alone. During the past few years, we’ve studied fleets’ needs and how the regulatory environment and manufacturer limitations affect their goals.

We need to work together to get these vehicles on the road and the necessary infrastructure in place so fleets are poised for long-term emissions compliance and cost savings.