Electricity More Cost-Effective Than Diesel For Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Study

New Swedish research challenges conventions, emphasizing optimal battery sizes for the economic feasibility of electric trucks.

<p>General Views of a fully electric prototype Tesla Semi truck outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on January 24, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)</p>

New research from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology challenges common beliefs by demonstrating that electricity can be a more cost-effective option than diesel for heavy-duty vehicles. 

What Happened: The study, based on data from an actual haulage company in Helsingborg, compared two battery sizes for electric trucks. While the larger battery reduced load capacity, it eliminated the need for on-road charging. 

Conversely, the smaller battery allowed for more load capacity but required quick charging during transit.

Battery Size Matters: However, the study’s author, doctoral student Johannes Karlsson, believes that with appropriately sized batteries, it is possible to electrify heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) at a cost equal to or even lower than that of diesel engines. 

Trucks drive through the Port of Oakland on March 31, 2023 in Oakland, California. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will allow California’s plan to phase out a variety of diesel-powered trucks in the state and require truck manufacturers to sell more zero-emission electric trucks. Half of all heavy trucks sales of heavy truck in California will have to be electric by 2035. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The ideal battery size, according to the research, depends on factors such as cargo weight, driving patterns, and fast charging costs. Karlsson stated, “A realistic future scenario is that HGVs will have different battery sizes.”

Other Takeaways: Additionally, the study highlights the long-term benefits of investing in batteries and charging equipment, as commercial vehicles typically undergo over 1400 charges throughout their lifespan. Given this perspective, the economic feasibility of such investments becomes more apparent.

19 September 2022, Lower Saxony, Hanover: An eActros LongHaul electric truck is on display at Daimler’s stand at the IAA Transportation international motor show for commercial vehicles at the Hanover trade fair center. (Photo by Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Why It Matters: This research carries significant implications as various automakers, including Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), BYD Co Ltd (OTCPK: BYDDY), NikolaCorp (NASDAQ: NKLA), TuSimple Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: TSP), Volvo AB (OTCPK: VLVLY) and Mercedes-Benz Group AG (OTCPK: MBGAF), are currently producing medium and heavy-duty electric trucks. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, trucks are projected to represent 69% of all vehicles by 2050, with electric trucks accounting for less than 10% of the total.

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Edited by Alberto Arellano and Sterling Creighton Beard