NewsLocal News


Company producing 1st fully electric terminal trucks is based in Kansas City

Kurt Neutgens
Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-23 19:21:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — One company is filling a void in the electric vehicle industry right in the middle of Kansas City.

According to the International Energy Agency, four percent of 2020 vehicle sales were E-Vs. Last year, that number was 14 percent. But fully-electric trucks are a whole different ball game.

“Tesla went out there and showed everybody it was real, and everybody’s like, ‘Woah, wait a second, we can do that too,’” said Kurt Neutgens, co-founder and CFO of Orange EV, the first manufacturer of fully electric class eight yard trucks, based in Kansas City.

Neutgens and his partner, Wayne Mathisen, founded the company in 2012, they answered that question.

With 220 customers in the U.S. and Canada, Orange EV has delivered over 870 trucks to users. In the past year, the company grew from 210 employees to 330.

“We were very small,” Neutgens said. “A lot of people said, you know, are they gonna make it? Are they real?”

The company has spent the past decade answering that question and fostering the market for electric terminal trucks.

“We're growing at an amazing rate,” Neutgens said. “At the same time, I have to be honest, I thought we were going to be much faster than this.”

He says one of the things preventing people from fully accepting electric vehicles is a lack of understanding them.

“It’s really important that the world understands that we’re going electric,” Neutgens said. “Any new technology goes thorough an acceptance curve, right?”

He believes that if people knew what he did about the sustainability of electric vehicles, it would be a no brainer.

“If they had full knowledge, they would take their diesels and just park 'em,” Neutgens said.

Based on research Orange EV conducted, one of the trucks over a 10-year period is calculated to displace 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide versus a diesel vehicle.

They found over the same 10-year period, a customer can save approximately $600,000 running a single truck.

So far, Orange EV sells two models: the e-Triver and the Husky, which pulls over 180,000 pounds.

Another concern electrification bring up is the idea of job security in the auto industry.

Neutgens says this change could actually provide more opportunities for employment, at least at Orange EV.

“We’re teaching people new skills,” Neutgens said. “But there’s a lot of carryover skills too. So, if someone’s a good mechanic, they’ll do well on this line, we’ll train them what they need to know.”

Neutgens says he hopes to hire at least 100 more employees before the end of the year. The KCK facility is the company's fourth facility 4th facility 440,000 square feet.

It's fully operating but also under construction still, so there’s more growth to come, especially considering where the first facility started at 2,000 square feet.

“There’s a lot of freight moving in Kansas City,” he said. So that’s also really a benefit for us. We’ve got a good customer base here.”

He expects that customer base to grow as the market for what Orange EV offers grows.

“This is a smaller, niche market,” Neutgens said. “We hope to expand significantly.”