The Future is Electric Transport Trucks
With the world moving towards a clean future, the trucking industry is no exception. As the industry focuses on improving the efficiency of its trucks, many companies are turning to electrification technology. As the battery prices drop, manufacturers are starting to develop models that will lead the way toward the electric transport truck of the future. In fact, some manufacturers are already beginning production of these vehicles, including Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. While Tesla’s EV transport truck is still not commercially ready, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have recently delivered fully electric trucks to European customers.
Despite the burgeoning e-truck market, manufacturers still face several challenges. For example, long-haul semi trucks are difficult to convert to electric because they cannot return to central refuelling stations every night. Batteries are expensive, and large vehicles require very large batteries, so the vehicles become more expensive than fossil-fuel powered trucks. They also face the challenge of finding new routes to transport goods and a lack of infrastructure that will enable them to recharge at night.
While many large shippers are putting major orders into the market, it isn’t clear which models will be the first to replace diesel trucks. Many manufacturers are betting on battery-electric trucks to replace a significant portion of the diesel truck fleet.
In the meantime, the industry is working to improve the charging capabilities of these trucks. According to a recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory report, the cost of small battery-electric trucks is expected to reach parity by 2030. In addition to battery-electric trucks, hydrogen fuel cells are being developed for long-haul semi-trucks. This type of truck requires extensive refuelling infrastructure, but the price of the cell technology has fallen rapidly, and it will soon be competitive with diesel trucks.
Currently, the electric truck market is divided between traditional truck manufacturers and companies building electric vehicles in partnership with truck manufacturers. These companies include Mercedes-Benz and Volvo and some start-ups like Nikola and Volta. However, as more companies enter the electric truck arena, the industry is undergoing a major transformation.
One of the leading drivers of the electric truck revolution is the White House’s zero-emissions vehicle mandate. Last year’s infrastructure law included $7.5 billion in funding to support the transition to zero-emissions trucks. These funds may help truck manufacturers sell their trucks to the federal government under a zero-emissions mandate. In addition, the Department of Energy released a report on the progress of clean-truck technology.
The trucking industry has relied on fossil fuels for decades, but the future is electric. As the market grows, manufacturers must be cost-competitive with conventional trucks to remain competitive. That means new models that are cheaper to run and offer more options for maximizing the potential of the new technologies. Several new vehicles are scheduled for release in the next couple of years. Those models will have to be capable of handling the demands of the long-haul truck market.
UPS is one company working on a large-scale conversion of its fleet. By the decade’s end, the carrier has committed to running half of its trucks without using any fossil fuels. Another large shipper, Anheuser-Busch, has placed a significant order for EV trucks. These trucks will save the company large amounts of money and reduce downtime.