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Kittle’s Furniture Looks to the Future – Uses Kenworth K270E Battery-Electric Cabover

May 1, 2024


Kittle’s Furniture is quietly leading the way in Indiana with the state’s first Kenworth battery-electric truck – delivering furniture just outside of Indianapolis.

With six retail locations in Indiana, Kittle’s Furniture uses a Kenworth K270E electric truck to deliver furniture to customers in the Indianapolis metro area from its distribution center in Fishers. The truck is leased through Palmer Leasing, the local PacLease franchise -- joining other leased medium-duty trucks also in service with Kittle’s.

With a range of up to 200 miles between charges, the truck is equipped with a 282 kW battery pack, which delivers 355 horsepower through a direct-drive motor. A 20 kW wall charger from PACCAR Parts provides overnight charging.

Founded in Indiana and family-owned since 1932, Kittle’s has been a leader in retail while always looking to the future. “That’s why we wanted to be the first in the furniture industry in Indiana to start using an electric delivery truck,” said Eric Easter, Kittle’s CEO. “With recent advancements in EV technology, especially in commercial vehicles, we believe it’s time to test and move forward with trucks that eliminate emissions while reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. And we’re finding the truck is delivering as promised. The K270E is less expensive to operate and has fewer service and maintenance requirements. This helps offset the higher lease rate. Our EV Kenworth from PacLease allows us to move into the future.”

According to Tyler Baker, Kittle’s director of operations, the K270E has been in service since November 2023. “We’ve been tracking the performance and project we will be saving $10,000 a year in fuel alone,” he said. “And our cost for recharging has been negligible – we’re not seeing much of a difference in our electric bill. We use the truck starting at 7:00 in the morning, and it’s returned to the charging pedestal by 6:00 in the evening. It’s then plugged in and ready to go in the morning.”

Baker said 50% of Kittle’s customers are within a 10-mile radius of its distribution center in Fishers. “The K270E serves those customers and goes back and forth to our distribution center, normally putting on between 75-100 miles per day. We have gone as many as 150 miles between charges and the truck has performed nicely. We expect the truck to put on about 20,000 miles a year. Our diesels average 25,000 miles.”

According to Baker, the main difference drivers have found between electric and diesel is the get-up-and-go power of the electric Kenworth. “It’s quicker out of the gate than our standard truck thanks to the direct drive engine,” said Baker. “And it’s so quiet. That’s taken getting used to, but our drivers like it.”

Customers like the truck as well. “We get lots of compliments. They see the wrap on the truck, which promotes the fact that this is an electric-powered vehicle. They think it’s pretty cool we’re running on battery power.”

With anything new, there was a period of getting used to the electric Kenworth. “There was a learning curve for us and Palmer since this truck was the first for both of us,” said Baker. “But we’ve been working together for a long time, so it was a good experience as we ramped up. We’re very comfortable with the electric truck now and that will help us as the industry moves forward with battery electric vehicles and charging technology.”

“We’ve worked side-by-side with Kittle’s Furniture since 2010,” added Palmer’s Chairman, John Nichols “We’re both family-owned organizations and view our relationship with Kittle’s as a partnership -- we do whatever it takes to help them succeed in transportation. We were thrilled they wanted to move forward with the new electric Kenworth K270E. The lease through PacLease made it very simple and cost-effective for them to move forward.”

“We take special pride in working with Palmer and Kenworth,” said Kittle’s Easter. “Our company firmly believes in ‘shop local’ and ‘buy American.’ More than 70% of all the items and 100% of the mattresses we sell are made or assembled in America – some right here in Indiana. It’s great working with Palmer here locally, and with Kenworth, an iconic American company that recently celebrated its 100th year.”

Kittle’s makes between 300 and 400 customer deliveries each week, according to Baker. Drivers shrink-wrap their loads each morning for protection, then make between 10- and 15 deliveries per day. Many deliveries are “white glove,” where Kittle’s drivers set up furniture in the customer’s home. More than 50% of deliveries are from orders placed at the company’s 132,000-square-foot superstore in Castleton, “but we go all over the state,” said Baker.

About once a week, trucks deliver new ‘display’ furniture to its retail locations, but the core transportation is to residential addresses. “We pride ourselves on quick turnaround – our deliveries typically take place within two days of the order from one of our stores,” said Baker. “And we do customer surveys to track customer satisfaction with the delivery and setup. Our latest rating was 4.87 out of 5. A key to that is uptime of the vehicles – making sure furniture arrives on time and we don’t keep a customer waiting. Since the trucks operate Tuesday through Saturday, PacLease comes to our distribution center on Mondays with mobile maintenance to ensure our trucks are in great working order. We pride ourselves on never missing a delivery.”

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