In an exclusive interview, Roberto Bragagnolo, Orange EV’s new general manager for Canada, details what the truck maker has in store for Canadian terminal operators looking to electrify operations
In late January, Missouri-based Orange EV, which builds, sells, and services zero-emission Class 8 yard or terminal trucks, announced it is expanding into the Canadian market, setting up shop under the name OEV Canada.
Orange EV’s trucks move trailers and containers over short distances around freight terminals, port facilities and warehouses. They operate in 160 fleets across the United States. The company already has a limited presence in Canada (and the Caribbean) through existing relationships with American customers operating here.
As part of its push north, Orange EV named Roberto Bragagnolo OEV Canada’s first Country General Manager.
Electric Autonomy spoke with Bragagnolo, who joined Orange after a stint as general manager at Finning, the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer. Bragagnolo discusses the 13-year-old company’s decision to open an affiliate north of the border, the role of EV-friendly government programs and why, when it comes to electrifying your fleet, terminal trucks are a sound investment.
(This interview was condensed and edited for clarity)
Electric Autonomy: Orange already had some presence in Canada through a couple of U.S. clients with operations here. Why did the company feel it was necessary to open an affiliate here as opposed to continue serving those clients from south of the border?
Roberto Bragagnolo: By opening offices in Canada, we’re able to offer our American customers here the same experience they get in the United States, while also being able to provide value to new Canadian customers. That means offering them the whole nine yards: from helping them size the trucks and chargers, as well helping them to determine their power needs and servicing their fleet using our local teams.
Electric Autonomy: Does that mean you plan to open several offices in Canada?
Roberto Bragagnolo: Strategically, we’re concentrating on the Windsor to Quebec City corridor to start. Our first operation is in the Toronto area. It’s where a lot of our American customers have operations and there is a high concentration of potential customers. But we hope to open our first service centre in Quebec in the second quarter of 2023 and another in British Columbia by the end of the year. Ultimately, we want to have proper services in those provinces so that if a client needs us, we can be there in a couple of hours.
Electric Autonomy: While your trucks are currently part of 160 fleets, the potential in the U.S. is not fully exploited. What makes Canada a good candidate for Orange’s operations?
Roberto Bragagnolo: The Canadian market may be smaller than the U.S. but it’s no less important. Canada is a great hub for trade from both Asia and Europe and we have two very major ports. The amount of merchandise that comes in from Canada is enormous so there’s a lot of potential here.
It’s not just large fleet owners like Amazon that use terminal trucks. We have smaller operators as well.
Electric Autonomy: Why did the company decide that 2023 was the time to expand to Canada?
Roberto Bragagnolo: There are two factors at play. First: Canada is seen as a very friendly place for EV companies. The federal government’s Incentives for Medium- Heavy-duty Zero-Emission Vehicles (iMHZEV) Program, which offers up to $100,000 in rebates, played a tremendous role in our decision to open here. These kinds of programs make our product [which have a base price around $400,000] extremely attractive to customers. And in provinces like British Columbia and Quebec, there are even more programs to help operators transition to zero-emission vehicles. We wanted to seize the moment before these programs expire. At the same time, we trust these types of programs will continue in one way or another.
Second: Orange is about to inaugurate a new production facility that will allow us to produce 1,800 terminal trucks per year. Currently our production is one-fifth of that. That being said, we expect to have at least 50 trucks in Canada by the end of 2023.
Electric Autonomy: As commercial fleet operators start to look more and more into electrification, why are terminal trucks like the ones Orange EV produces a good option?
Roberto Bragagnolo: What makes a zero-emission terminal truck so attractive is its return on investment. Depending on the price of diesel and cost of electricity in the province, we think operators in Canada can recoup the cost of the truck in as little as one to two years.
Terminal trucks also represent a lot less risk than electric delivery trucks for instance. They don’t have to hit the road so there’s no charging anxiety with electric yard trucks. They’re not going to get discharged during operation because you can always charge them on site when needed. From that perspective, opting for this kind of vehicle over a diesel makes all the sense in the world.
Electric Autonomy: Canada has a lot of expertise when it comes to building vehicles. Are there any plans to bring vehicle and battery production north of the border as well?
Roberto Bragagnolo: In the future, we could potentially look into partial assembly in Canada. In our view, our role is to create jobs here in Canada. We came here to stay and to add value to the Canadian market.