The first electric trucks are here now. How fast will the supply and demand expand? Who are the manufacturer? While electric pickup trucks have been announced we won’t see any quantity for years. But electric trucks are here now. This is under the radar of consumers. They don’t buy electric trucks. They might consider electric cars now with over 70% saying their next car will be electric. However, given the global market demand for cars is over 70 million new cars a year, but electric are about 8% of that production, you might be waiting! But businesses do seriously consider electric to see if the costs stack up. Freight cost is a major cost. Some have discovered that electric trucks give real substantial savings. Business may wait as they have existing ICE trucks that have a depreciation rate, a planned replacement program in place, and charging infrastructure may be needed.
Electric Buses Are Leading the Charge
Buses are simply truck bodies with a bus framework built over the top of the drive frame. With trucks, a cab is fitted and with buses, the framework includes the driver and seating. BYD is the global leader and sold 593,000 plugin vehicles and over 10,000 buses and trucks in 2021. The electric trucks market was estimated to be 70,000 units in 2021 and projected to grow at a CAGR of 40% to reach 1.4 million units by 2030.
Autonomous Electric Trucks
Autonomous long haul trucking is going to happen. There is a shortage of drivers. Tesla has designed its trucks for autonomous or pod (where 1 driver, multiple units). In June 2022, New Atlas report that Einride introduced its cabless autonomous electric T-pod truck back in 2017, which rolled on Swedish roads for the first time a couple of years later. Now the company has been given the green light for operation on public roads in the US.
Electrification is happening fast, and it’s happening now
Electric trucks are here now from multiple manufacturers. There are some manufacturers who offer focus on specific market segments, as trucks are used in different ways, different needs, and different cargo.
McKinsey developed a granular assessment of battery-electric commercial vehicles (BECVs) for 27 CV segments across three different regions (China, Europe, and the United States), three weight classes, and three applications. The three weight classes are light-duty trucks (LDTs), medium-duty trucks (MDTs), and heavy-duty trucks (HDTs), while the three applications are urban, regional, and long-haul cycles. (Read the report here). Specifically:
- Size of truck. In the USA, the truck size is categorised by Class (see below)
- Distance travelled
- Cargo type
- Type of activity eg. Return to base activity versus point to point distance.
These applications can also be split into other segments
- Small or moderate size trucks – delivery, courier, food vans
- Short distance, large trucks that spend a lot of time idling. E.g. garbage trucks
- Longer distance – with daily 400km intercity freight
- Long haul large trucks that might drive interstate 500 to 2,000 km
Electric Trucks and Buses from Multiple Manufacturers
Truck Manufacturers and ApplicationElectric trucks are coming from all the major manufacturers. This table highlights just some of the companies that are making both general purpose and special purpose vehicles.
|10,000 in China |
300 in USA
|BYD has range of buses and trucks sold globally with about 15% or more of the market for larger electric vehicles. ETP 3 van, ETM6 small truck, and other models.|
Over 70,000 e-buses in past decade
| BYD USA
|Scania / MAN||Trucks||Scania has multiple truck models in Europe, UK and USA. Wheels include 4x2, 6x2, 6x2*4, with axle distance of 3950 – 5750 mm and batteries up to 300kw. Expects 10% sales to be electric by 2025, and 50% by 2030|
Note: Scania and MAN are part of Traton Group, which is owned by the VW group.
| Scania trucks and buses
|Mack||Garbage Trucks||Mack introduced an electric garbage truck in 2021 and has said it will provide electric vehicles.||Mack Trucks|
|Rivian||RT1 Van||100,000||Amazon placed 100,000 by 2025 but also selling to non-Amazon companies||Rivian|
|Tesla||Tesla Semi||20,000||First semis delivered to Pepsico in 2021, limited by battery supply. Fast Charger (1.5MW provides 30m full charge)||Tesla Semi|
|Tata||Truck Ultra T.7 4T-8T GVW||City truck.|| TATA T7
|Daimler AG||Mercedes Sprinter type vans|
|Range of trucks. EActros in 2 or 3 axle versions. 250 mile range. up to 40T 3 or 4 battery packs - 1 hour to charge 400A DC||Mercedes UK|
|PACCAR||Peterbilt, Kenworth, DAF||Peterbilt Model 579EV, Kenworth T680E, DAF XG+ Early stage. Range 150 mile. 22 vehicles on road. Medium and large vehicles (Class 8) announced in CES 2022||PACCAR Electric News CES 2022|
|Renault||DZ.E. and Wide Z.E.||10% by 2025||2nd Generation, 3 models, from 3.1 to 26T, 2 electric motors 260kW, 200 kWh batteries, 200km range,||Renault|
|Volvo||Buses, trucks||Over 5 models FH City to chity, FM regional, FMX local, FE compact, FL Door to door, and VNR local & regional||Volvo Corporate Electric|
|SEA Conversion||Conversion||Claims to change 3 conventional trucks to electric for the price of just 1 new vehicle. Uses Hino in Australia for truck frame. Recently won contract for 10,000 diesel to electric bus conversion in USA||SEA Electric Conversion|
|Nikola Motors||Tre BEV and FCEV||22 in 2022||Up to 350 mile, 750kW pack, 645HP and has orders for 100's||Nikola Trucks|
|Workhorse||C-1000 Series||Cargo capacity of 1,000 ft3, 100 mile range. Last mile delivery. Sell to Ryder and others. Also has last mile drone delivery.||Workhorse|
|Magan Motors||Conversion||22||partial or full conversion kits. (Canadian)||Magna Conversion unit|
|Janus Electrical||Conversion||Prototype||4 min swap out, heavy haulage, 500-600km range Australia||Janus Conversions|
Trucks Are Different Between EU and USA
Truck design varies by country. While the most obvious difference is where the engine is, and that is due to length regulations. In the US the length of the trailer is regulated, whereas in Europe the length of the entire vehicle is regulated. Trucks in Europe are (perhaps surprisingly) heavier than their US equivalents (97,000lb vs 80,000lbs). Other differences include emissions regulations, protectionist safety laws (e.g. brake regulations) and axle weight regulations. Truck classifications are typically based upon the maximum loaded weight of the truck, usually using the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and sometimes the gross trailer weight rating (GTWR). This can vary among local or regional authorities.
Rate of Adoption
Mckinsey in their model in 2017 suggests that adoption will depend on application, and long haul will take longer. However in 2022, their predictions are probably too conservative as manufacturers bring new models to market and costs continue to drive down much faster than they model.
Ford Transit EV
The Ford Transit van is a very common delivery truck. About 300,000 European conventional ICE transit vans are currently made in Turkey but it looks like Romania might snare the EV models. In the USA Ford is looking to fill some 10,000 orders it received from 300 different customers ranging from government institutions to private buyers with the biggest single order in the USA from Walmart, for 1,100 E-Transits. The USA variant is made in Missouri. (Details from InsidersEV)
Ford wants to sell the E-Transit throughout its entire global commercial dealer network comprised of over 1,800 locations, of which 645 are in the United States. Of the ones in the US, the automaker notes that around 90 percent are ready for the sale of electric vehicles. The Ford E-Transit is not especially impressive, with its 67 kWh battery pack and targeted EPA range of 126 miles (203 km) on one charge. It does have DC fast charging at up to 115 kW and it comes with an eight-year warranty; prices start at $45,000 for fleet customers.
Electric Trucks Cheaper in Australia
Battery electric freight trucks could be financially viable on Australian roads “even today,” a new report has found, if they were deployed in the right applications and backed by the right leadership, collaboration, and investment. The report from the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council (QTLC), in partnership with specialist consultancy Mov3ment, warns that “significant deployment” of zero emission trucks will be required to meet state and federal government net-zero targets. That’s because in Queensland, alone, transport is the third largest contributor to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, at 13%, and heavy vehicles are the second contributor to that amount. (See more at The Driven Feb 2022). The report showed battery electric trucks can be financially viable even today in the right application – including urban delivery, low-frequency waste compactors and regional haul.
The Feb 2022 Report QTLC Report addresses barriers to zero emissions by 2025 and identifies Sweet Spots for Electric Trucks and Supporting Actions can be downloaded here
It is puzzling to see that the report says that fuel costs for an articulated line-haul is $200,000 for diesel but electricity is over $200,000. Eu and US estimates show that the solar / battery / recharging systems for long haul would be about 20% of the cost of diesel.
Recent studies have shown slower speed trucks (around ports, short haul) are even more efficient. (California Air Resources Board) with a 5 to 9 times improved fuel efficiency.
How Much Cheaper
This graph shows costs, but the study was based on EU 2019 figure of 0.14 euro per kWh and cost of a Tesla fast charge of 0.27 euro/KWh. Whereas the cost of solar in Australia is about $AU0.10 (or E0.05) and battery firming maybe double that to enable fast (350A) charge.
Cleantechnica have a great article (Feb 2022) about the rate of change. They point out that the cost of diesel is high, and so additional capital cost is more than offset by lowered operating costs, lower maintenance and longer life.
Another report in Cleantechnica says a survey by Ceres (a nonprofit organization) that works with the movers and shakers in capital markets to address the sustainability challenges that the world is facing. Last summer, it polled some of the largest purchasers of vehicles for commercial use — companies like Amazon, Best Buy, DHL, Hertz, Schindler Elevator, T-Mobile, and UNFI — and asked them what vehicles they wanted manufacturers to build. Combined, these companies have over a trillion dollars in annual revenue and operate 1.3 million vehicles in the US. The results of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance survey were clear. Those companies plan to buy more than 330,000 electric vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, pickups, and box trucks.
Cummings Drive Train In One
Cummings (Media Release) acquired the former Columbus-based Meritor in 2022.
The Meritor’s 17XE ePowertrain suits heavy trucks with heavy trucks weighing up to 44 tons combined weight. The powertrain features Cummins’ new lithium iron phosphate battery pack.
ZF All in One Drive Train
ZF in July 2023 released their latest all-in-one axle (see Electrec). ZF’s commercial vehicle product range now includes second-generation all-electric central drives (CeTrax 2), second-generation axle drives (AxTrax 2), and individual EV components.
Distribution vehicles up to 44-tonne trucks and trailers are candidates for the units. Scheduled production is in 2024. There are 2 variants. Both models replace the engine, transmission, PTO shaft, and conventional axle to electrify commercial vehicles
- AxTrax 2 = 210 kW of continuous power,
- AxTrax 2 dual with two integrated electric drives for heavy-duty trucks provides 380 kW of continuous power.
For a good review of Australia industry