TICO Sparking Industry with EV Solution

June 01, 2023
By Laura J. McKenzie, VISTA Volunteer, SouthernCarolina Alliance


It is a place that powers people, machines and industries. 

It is fueled by the passion and imagination of its team members. 

At TICO, you can feel the energy pulsing through the plant. It seems….electric. 

And soon, it will be electric. 

​​Terminal Investment Corporation (TICO) began ​in 1946​​ ​ as an inter-city bus transportation business by the Booker family​ in Savannah, Georgia​. Over the next seven decades with two generations of family at the helm, the business evolved. ​ 

In the early 1970’s, Randall S. “Randy” Booker, chairman and CEO of TICO, recognized an opportunity and developed a concept whereby TICO would own and operate the tractors and lease them for port operations. This would allow the ports to have continually dependable vehicles without the burden of owning and maintaining them.​ TICO began building tractors to move containers around at our nation’s busiest ports after having concluded that the tractors one could buy did not meet the real-world needs of a fleet operator.​ 

“This innovation has proved to be a critical aspect in the successes recorded by numerous ports,” according to TICO’s website. 

“We are a pretty unique business,” said Mallery Pindar, TICO’s Director of Sales, Marketing and Commercial Development. “​Our products were ​born out of necessity.” 

TICO’s leadership looked for a location and found it in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Booker said recently, “We selected the Ridgeland site in 2004 because we saw long-term value in the rural workforce concept. Today, with the largest private workforce in Jasper County, we are immensely proud of the men and women who drive a culture of safety, quality and productivity.” 

In 2008, TICO entered the retail market, selling to businesses and industries who were also in need of the specialized vehicles. “The tractors were built by people who not only run them but also understand the customer support side.” 

This has led TICO to become the second largest provider in the industry in a relatively short time, said Pindar. ​The majority of TICO’s annual production volume is sold through its growing North American dealer network, with the balance of production being National Fleet Accounts and TICO’s internal port operations.​​     ​ 

“Our dealer networks are critically important,” said Pindar. 

Like electricity, the company isn’t sitting still. “While we are second at the moment, we have a world domination scheme,” he said with a smile. 

That includes the introduction of an electric version of their tractors. TICO teamed up with Volvo-Penta to create a new model, the TICO Pro-Spotter​ Electric​.  

The Pro-Spotter​ Electric​ is an emission-free electric vehicle (EV), powered by Volvo Penta’s innovative electric driveline, according to company promotional documents. “Full battery capacity can be reached in 4​0​​ ​minutes with a 150-kW charger. ​The design delivers​​ ​faster acceleration, instant torque, improved efficiency and optimized utilization of energy. Additionally, the Pro-Spotter​ Electric​ was designed with the operator in mind for enhanced comfort and a better driving experience.” 

“TICO is pairing customers with approved charger vendors so the technology does not restrict the end-user to a proprietary charging solution (unlike some of our competition), rather uses the CCS-1 standard charging protocol for the US,” said Pindar. 

Booker added, “Our success in the market validates and drives the capital investments we are committing to future growth. Our team is gearing up to embark on full production of electric trucks in the next successful chapter of TICO Manufacturing.” 

The new electric vehicle was showcased on February 27 in Orlando, Florida at the Transportation and Technology Exhibition. Orders are now being taken. 

Daryl Berryman, Senior Director of Engineering, Research & Development, and Quality said, “The demand for electrification is in all the markets and applications we support. It’s the natural evolution of transportation and goods movement. With our partner, Volvo Penta, we’ve developed the best and most efficient EV solution for our customers. The new product has the benefits of eliminated fuel costs, reduced maintenance, and improved uptime.” 

Pindar said the move to ​electric vehicles ​is four-fold. “First, there is a lot of regulatory pressure and some states are taxing industries to reduce their emissions. Second, some of our customers are leading the charge for sustainability and having a cleaner fleet. Third, there are subsidies being offered to purchase electric vehicles. And fourth, diesel engines are increasingly more complicated and costly to build. If our customers can get great funding and less operating costs, then this​ an obvious ‘win-win’.​​”​ 

TICO leadership didn’t want to rush into a new product. “We wanted to hold out for the best solution,” said Pindar. They didn’t want to create a product that was put together​ ​piecemeal. They wanted something special that would combine TICO​’s innovative tractor design​​ ​with the electric ​Volvo electrobility technology and driveline​. 

The real spark was in 2020 when TICO met with Volvo Penta. Volvo was founded in 1907 and is headquartered in Goteborg, Sweden. Volvo acquired Penta in 1935 and Volvo Penta has been part of the Volvo Group since then. It provides complete power systems to the marine industry, power-generating equipment, and similar industrial applications. 

In 2021, TICO and Volvo Penta formed a full partnership. “It has been a transformational partnership,” said Pindar. 

“Volvo Penta has a vision to be a leader in sustainable power solutions, and TICO is a very important part of this transformational journey,” said Darren Tasker, Vice President of Industrial at Volvo Penta North America.  

“Partnering with TICO on our project to introduce an emission-free, electric terminal tractor leverages Volvo Group technology and Volvo Penta’s experience and full-system approach to the electric driveline — from development to installation — and TICO’s manufacturing capabilities and extensive customer service and support. We are growing and innovating together to secure market position and achieve a technologically advanced powertrain portfolio.” 

“Volvo has proven technology,” said Pindar. “We use all Volvo components plus the support.” 

“It is important to know that our trucks are not just being redesigned. This ​is a proven​​ ​driveline solution,” said Pindar. 

Locally, the new product line is having an impact. “We have beefed up our engineering resources. We’ve had to staff-up to build the prototype vehicle​s​. We will have changes in our assembly line – tooling and staff training.” 

Expansion of the facility is being determined. “This facility will build about two times as many vehicles in near future as we did this past year,” said Pindar. “We are doubling our production.” 

They employ highly dedicated people who work as teams to create the tractors. 

“The high-voltage components will be installed by select, highly-trained employees,” said Pindar. 

Currently there are about 300 employees working at the Ridgeland facility. 

“TICO has invested in the people of our region, providing great job opportunities while manufacturing a state-of-the-art vehicle,” said Kay Maxwell, Vice President of SouthernCarolina Alliance, the regional economic development organization representing Jasper County and six other counties.  “We are proud of the role that TICO plays in their industry sector, and now we have even more to tout in Jasper County as TICO has brought more innovation to the table in the EV market.” 

Jim Grooms, Chief Operating Officer, said, “TICO Manufacturing is excited about adding an Electric Terminal Tractor to our existing lineup of industry-leading products. EV benefits are far-reaching, benefiting the environment and customer operations. Our workforce is energized by the new challenge of building an electric vehicle and to be a part of providing such an important capability to the marketplace.” 

The change has been complex but we are getting there as a team,” said Pindar. 

“It’s an exciting time to be on our TICO teams,” he said. “TICO has something special going on. Growth is off the charts. We are a force to be reckoned with in the terminal trucking industry.” 

It’s a force as powerful as lightning. 


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