Study Indicates Commercial Electric Vehicles Could Have Massive Benefits
As several countries and automakers move toward electrification, most of the focus has been placed on passenger vehicles. After all, these types of cars make up the majority of the vehicles on the world’s roads and are responsible for more than 40% of global carbon emissions from transportation. As such, most automakers have focused on building electric passenger vehicles, and governments keen on electrification have been working to push electric vehicle (“EV”) adoption among the masses.
However, a new study has found that electrifying the commercial truck segment could have even bigger benefits. Like the trains of old, diesel trucks have revolutionized long-distance shipping, facilitating the transport of 72% of America’s freight across vast distances. In 2019, the U.S. alone had almost 4 million Class 8 trucks operating on its roads, says the American Trucking Association, with most of them running on diesel. Globally, commercial trucks account for nearly one-third of carbon emissions from vehicles, despite making up just a small fraction of the vehicles on the road.
By targeting and electrifying the long-haul trucking segment, researchers from the University of California and the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory believe the United States could see a major reduction in carbon emissions. They analyzed the total cost of ownership (“TCO”) of an electric long-haul truck, assuming it had a 375-mile range and was using current battery pack prices. By comparing their results to the TCO of a diesel truck, they found that an electric model would cost 13% less per mile, saving fleet managers up to $200,000 over the lifetime of an electric long-haul truck.
By forecasting reducing battery costs over the coming years and other improvements on battery and EV technology, the researchers reported that by 2030, the TCO of electric trucks would be 50% lower. On top of saving companies and municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars, electrifying commercial trucks would help these entities cut their emissions by a wide margin, enabling them to meet increasingly strict emissions standards. Nikit Abhyankar, a research scientist at Berkeley Lab and one of the study’s authors, says policies for EV adoption and charging infrastructure incentives, cost-effective electricity pricing, and sales mandates, among others things, will be instrumental in electrifying the commercial long-haul truck segment.
Some established automakers and EV makers have already spotted this opportunity, with companies such as Tesla, Daimler and Volvo running electric truck pilots. The Tesla Semi is currently being tested on state highways, and PepsiCo has said that it expects Tesla to deliver 15 of its Semi electric trucks by the end of the year. Additionally, Walmart Canada tripled its order to 130 Tesla Semis.
Lead author of the study and Berkeley Lab staff scientist Amol Phadke says that if the country can steadily replace diesel-powered, heavy-duty vehicles with electric alternatives, the U.S. can significantly reduce particulate and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation industry.
As companies such as Ideanomics Inc. (NASDAQ: IDEX) press ahead with their mission of facilitating the switch to commercial electric vehicles, the chances that fleets will go electric are high over the coming years.
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