Market development The electric truck market is growing
Market for medium and heavy-duty electric trucks to grow in the following years
Despite medium and heavy duty trucks representing only 9% of the global vehicle stock, large diesel truck engines combined with high average annual mileage mean that the truck sector contributes 39% of the transport sectors’ greenhouse gas emissions, which equates to about 5% of all global fossil fuel derived CO2 emission. It is this disproportionate contribution to emissions which makes trucks a target for governments.
If the global community is going to meet its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the impact of climate change then it is clear that a rapid decarbonisation of the truck sector must be a priority. Consequently, the days of the fossil fuel powered combustion engine are numbered. Governments around the world, recognising the potentially catastrophic repercussions of unfettered climate change and witnessing the detrimental impact on human health from vehicle exhaust pollutant emissions in urban environments, are taking decisive action, that will, in the coming decades, drive vehicle manufacturers to zero on-road exhaust emission powertrain solutions. Zero-emission trucks will therefore be needed to reach the new EU 2030 climate targets and the 2050 climate neutrality objective.
Powertrain of the future
Vehicle electrification offers a solution which effectively eliminates on-road exhaust emission and passes the pressure of decarbonisation on to electricity generation. A majority of manufactures, including Tesla, Daimler, VW and Volvo are investing heavily in all-electric trucks (battery electric BEV), a smaller minority, Toyota, Hyundai, and Nikola, have chosen to focus their efforts on fuel cell EV (FCEV) as the powertrain of the future. Despite issues with the efficiency of hydrogen as a fuel, FCEV remains in the conversation as a technology for long haul trucking applications, where a greater range is required, though the viability of this technology is dependent on the production of cheap low carbon hydrogen and the availability of it. Chinese manufacturers are starting to produce electric trucks, leveraging their experience in electric buses and battery production. Given the Chinese governments strong support for the entire EV industry it is likely that this is where the most significant deployment of EV trucks will be seen in the near future.
In the short to medium term, a range of financial incentives for electric trucks in the form of subsidies and tax breaks will be necessary to offset the high initial capital investment required to purchase electric trucks. However, over the next decade, as tightening emission regulation forces diesel truck manufacturers to fit increasingly expensive emissions control devices, raising the cost of diesel trucks, and the cost of electric trucks decreases due to falling battery prices and economies of scale savings on the cost of electric components and vehicle manufacturing, the TCO balance (Total Cost of Ownership) increasingly swings in favour of electric trucks. By the end of the 2020s, with electric trucks produced in volume, the difference in initial capital investment will be offset by the fuel savings and maintenance over the lifetime of the truck.
Phase out of diesel and petrol fuelled vehicles
An increasing number of cities and nations around the world are targeting a complete phase out of diesel and petrol fuelled vehicles on their roads. The electrification of truck fleets, especially those operating in urban environments, is likely to happen rapidly, once the cost benefit and ability of the technology to deliver the required daily duty cycles have been demonstrated.
Half of the EU’s total truck activity (in tonnes per km, a good proxy for CO2-emissions) is driven over distances of less than 300 km. These trips could be covered today by electric trucks, thanks to new models currently coming to the market with about 300 km range (enough to cover nine trips out of ten). It is expected that the range of the electric trucks available will swiftly increase to 500 km, covering about two thirds of kilometers and 19 trips out of 20. Targeting the largest urban areas is the optimal zero emission freight strategy for the next years.
Smart infrastructure deployment
With the right policy and charging infrastructure, road freight can be decarbonized to a great extent in the 2020’s. Smart infrastructure deployment in cities can set the stage for battery electric trucks to come to the fore. Diesel and natural gas truck sales must be phased out between 2035 and 2040 at the latest if the EU wants to be in line with its Green Deal objective of climate neutrality by mid-century. To achieve this level of decarbonisation, a number of legislative and policy changes will be necessary to accelerate both the production supply of electric trucks and to urgently deploy charging infrastructure at the depot (overnight charging), at the distribution center (destination charging) and at publicly accessible locations (public charging).
Due to these market developments, first responders will have to deal with accidents involving trucks with alternative propulsion more frequently. In the November update of our Crash Recovery System we added the Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell truck (FCEV) and the battery electric driven MAN eTGM (BEV) on which we tell you more about in the following articles:
Crash Recovery System – Know what’s inside, see what to do!