Electric Trucks: Challenges, Opportunities, and Their Future
The shift towards electric powered-vehicles has been successful in the consumer market — over 1 million cars are on the road in the United States. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are next in line. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector accounts for 29% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with medium- and heavy-duty trucks responsible for 23% of those emissions. For this reason, the transportation industry is under pressure to reduce carbon emissions and switch to electric power.
Making the Switch to Electric Power
Thought leaders and industry experts have argued that the electrification of trucks shouldn’t just be about installing an electric powertrain into a legacy product. Instead, the entire vehicle must be reimagined to realize the full potential of electrical power.
In an article for CCJ Digital, Igor Stamenkovic, director of global technology for Eaton, says “Invention is coming up with an idea, but innovation is really monetizing on that new idea and technology. The critical thing is developing an ecosystem that supports the technologies and developing a business model that is sustainable.”
The shift to electric-powered trucks will require service providers to dedicate bays to electric service. In addition, truck dealerships will have to adapt their sales approach and services. One of the barriers to electrification include high upfront costs to cover changes to the facility that will likely involve the utility company.
One of the biggest obstacles in the way of mass adoption of electric commercial trucks is a lack of truck charging infrastructure. Industry leaders have said that “early developments in the electric charging network would be privately funded and held.”
The Early Movers
An article by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers reports that Volvo and Daimler are at the front of the line in creating electric freight trucks. Companies like Anheuser-Busch, Walmart, United Parcel Service and FedEx are placing large orders for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks and helping to adopt the technology.
One of the challenges faced by electric truck-makers is finding the right balance between weight, placement and battery capacity. A current solution involves using lithium-ion batteries, resulting in the elimination of engine noise, vibration and exhaust gas.
Truck drivers should be excited for the future of electric trucking. What’s not to appreciate about quieter driving experiences and clean air?