When Will Electric Trucks Transform the Industry?

The standards for fuel economy and efficiency continue to rise in our world. Automakers are continually asked to increase MPG and reduce carbon dioxide emissions when building their vehicles. We have seen the transition in passenger cars. Hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Fusion have become plentiful. Electric cars such as the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf continue to pop up on the road. So when will we see this transition in the trucking industry?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and oil usage in America, while they only account for about 5% of vehicles on the road. Of course there have been improvements with the availability of biofuel and natural gas trucks, but when will we see hybrid or full-electric trucks?

It’s probably going to take quite some time, especially for the over-the-road type trucker. The amount of weight and distance being the two main deterrents. How many batteries would it take to match the power of a diesel engine? How many miles can the truck make it on a battery powered engine? At the end of the day, the trucking industry is about completing deliveries on-time for the least possible cost. Companies can’t afford to take chances and won’t be able to adopt this new technology until they are confident it can go the distance.

One application that seems to make sense at this time would be for the waste management sector. Hybrid/electric vehicles recoup energy through their braking system. With all the stops a trash company makes, and the fact that they are usually local (meaning less miles needing to run on the battery), this could be a good fit. Diesel engines in heavy trucks typically get around 6 MPG, but with the type of hard driving trash trucks do, it can be half that! City buses have been moving that direction as well, with nearly half of public transportation buses using a form of alternative fuel.

In the long run, electric trucks would save a significant amount of money on fuel expenses and, according to the EPA, greatly benefit our environment. For now, the current technology available for heavy-duty trucking isn’t quite ready for the mass market, although a number of companies are actively developing solutions. In the meantime, diesel will continue as the main fuel for the foreseeable future.

If you’re concerned about reducing and controlling your fleet fuel expenses, contact Conor Proud at Sokolis Group, cproud@sokolisgroup.com or 267-482-6159. We are the nation’s leading independent fuel management consulting team and can help you make sure that your fuel management program is running at peak efficiency.