Is It Time to Invest in Electric Trucks?
21 Sep 2020
As the pandemic forced people to stay home for long periods, it allowed them to do a lot of shopping online. This change in buying behaviour somehow disrupted the supply chain. Shippers across the country heavily relied on trucks to deliver goods. And in some way, this reminded everyone that the trucking industry and its commercial vehicles needed to be more eco-friendly, as policies and economics needed adapting.
The Increasing Demand for Electric Trucks
Electric trucks in the past have been few and far between due to infrastructure issues and lack of innovation. The last few years have changed all that. The need to reduce carbon emissions has fueled innovations in cleaner, renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. Some businesses tried to give up their reliance on fossil fuel energy by producing electric vehicles (EVs) powered by lithium-ion batteries or hydrogen-hybrid ones. As more electric cars are produced, charging infrastructures expand to encourage more consumers to switch to EV.
Although heavy-duty trucks make up only 5% of vehicles on U.S. roads, they account for 23% of all transportation greenhouse gas emissions. Developing a charging infrastructure for electric trucks can be challenging. For the most part, these vehicles require different charging capacities to your standard electric passenger car and, as such, would require innovative charging options.
In California, a West Coast Transit Corridor Initiative proposed installing, in phases, 27 charging sites in 50-mile intervals for medium-duty electric vehicles by 2025. Fourteen of those sites would be expanded for use by heavy-duty electric cars by 2030. Implementing this would not only bring cleaner air, reduce greenhouse emissions, and drive economic growth; it would also make efficient use of the electricity grid and reduce the rates for customers.
This initiative also piques the interest of car dealers and other businesses. But if you invest in an electric truck dealership or a fleet of electric trucks for your shipment company, make sure you consult with a trusted commercial electrician and other experts who can give you the right advice on electrical charging installation. After all, charging an electric truck isn’t the same as charging an electric motorcycle or sedan.
The Challenges That Come with Electric Trucks
Unfortunately, there is the issue of how the limitations of whether an electric truck battery could outrun the thousand-mile run capacity in diesel trucks. When Tesla Motors showed off its Semi electric truck last year, CEO Elon Musk boldly stated that the Semi would have a 500-mile daily range with an hour charge to “top-off” using a high-capacity Tesla charging station. Nikola One claims the hydrogen fuel cells on its truck can replenish battery charges while on the highway, giving it a 1,200-miles range.
Organizations and Governments Are Paving the Way for Electric Trucks
In Europe, 18 companies and organizations, of which the founding members are Deutsche Post, Geodis, DHL, IKEA, Nestle, and Unilever, have formed the European Clean Trucking Alliance (ECTA), calling for a reliable plan of the decarbonization of road freight transport in the EU by 2050. More companies demand affirmative action on the European Green Deal. For the first time on a stretch of the Autobahn in Germany, Siemens is testing a carbon-neutral method of powering and charging hybrid and electric trucks with their highway system, utilizing the installation of overhead power lines on a rail-less highway. This energy-saving method was also field-tested on a one-mile stretch of road in California in 2017, and along a highway north of Stockholm in Sweden in 2016. “There will always be advantages to using electricity directly and thus avoiding storing the energy. It will also always be advantageous to have infrastructure that can be used by a large number of trucks. It will also be increasingly beneficial to not lose time simply to stand still and charge.” said Ellen Schramke, a Siemens Mobility spokesperson.
In June, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted unanimously on a plan to manufacture more electric trucks, requiring manufacturers to produce 100,000 zero-emission, road-worthy trucks by 2030 and around 300,000 by 2035. This is the first time a rule of this kind was made in the United States and is one of the state’s goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2045. “We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel,” said Jared Blumenfeld, California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection.
The Future of Electric Trucks Looks Promising
Recently, Bill Gates wrote this note on his blog:”Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets.” To which Elon Musk replied via Twitter: “He has no clue.”
Until we find out what Elon Musk decides to reveal on Battery Day, which has been rescheduled for September 22nd, we won’t have a clue, either. Still, the efforts of tech innovators and government support on expanding infrastructure worldwide can only lead the way to a cleaner and more efficient electrified trucking industry. The forecast looks very promising.