There’s a buzz in the industry right now around electric trucks and sustainability. E-trucks require less maintenance, are more reliable, eliminate fuel costs and don’t cause the same air pollution that diesel trucks do. The cost of electric batteries for Class 8 e-trucks, however, and their short range have so far limited widespread adoption of electric truck technology within OTR trucking. That is expected to change in the not-so-distant future as semi e-truck technology advances and battery prices come down. At the end of 2019, there were 2,000 heavy-duty electric trucks and buses on the road, a number which is expected to be twice as high by the end of this year.
Check out these four facts about trucking, sustainability and electric trucks!
A study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, U.C.L.A., and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley reports that heavy-duty trucks only make up 11 percent of the vehicles on the road — yet they account for nearly half of vehicle carbon emissions and 71 percent of particulate (soot) emissions that can lead to premature death. Heavy duty trucks (Class 7 and 8 trucks) are the largest mobile source of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that is linked with heart and lung disease, as well. The study also found that diesel trucks are responsible for $58 billion in air pollution damages each year.
Several manufacturers, trucking companies and logistics companies are piloting e-truck fleets right now or have plans to in 2022. In August, Schneider National ordered 50 Freightliner eCascadia battery-electric trucks, which will be the largest commercial deployment of battery-electric trucks to date. Fleetmaster Express, a Texas-based 3PL, is beginning its transition from a diesel to an electric fleet later this year with the addition of 10 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 trucks. Quality Custom Distribution, a Southern California food service logistics company, will have 15 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 trucks as part of its last-mile delivery routes by the end of this year. Penske Logistics has been operating an electric vehicle pilot program in conjunction with Daimler Trucks North America since 2020. Penske also has opened six heavy-duty electric vehicle charging stations in Southern California as part of the pilot program.
The price tag on electric-battery Class 8 trucks can be anywhere between 50 and 70 percent higher than on diesel trucks.
The price tag on electric-battery Class 8 trucks can be anywhere between 50 and 70 percent higher than on diesel trucks. The battery pack for an electric Class 8 truck accounts for at least 55 percent of the cost of a new e-truck. The good news is that battery costs for Class 8 e-trucks are expected to fall by a third by 2030. According to some estimates, the total cost of ownership, which adds maintenance and fuel expenses to the upfront cost, could be 50 percent cheaper for electric trucks than for diesel trucks by 2030. These estimates depend on how quickly battery prices decrease and whether sufficient charging infrastructure is in place by then.
The cost of ownership for a Class 8 long-haul electric truck currently is 13 percent lower than the cost of ownership for a similar diesel model, which amounts to as much as $200,000 over the life of the truck. Eliminating the recurring costs associated with using diesel fuel account for much of this, but e-trucks also require less maintenance because there are fewer heavy components and gears included in their design. Electric big rigs provide regenerative braking, which reduces operating costs, extends range, and reduces brake pad and lining wear, as well. Some states offer incentives if you purchase and continue to use an electric Class 8 truck, which would further decrease your total cost of ownership, too.
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