Electric trucks close to cost parity with diesel, new studies show

April 29, 2021

Advances in technology mean that battery-powered heavy trucks will soon be cheaper to own and run than their petrol and diesel counterparts, according to two new studies by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and T&E. It is further evidence that the future of trucking is electric, says T&E, which has called on the EU to set legally binding targets to ensure battery electric trucks are not held back by insufficient charging infrastructure.

T&E’s study, which focuses on long-haul trucking in Germany, found that direct electrification of road freight is not only technically feasible but is likely to reach cost parity with diesel by the middle of the decade. Directly electrifying trucks is today – and will remain in the future – at least twice as energy efficient as renewable hydrogen and around three times as efficient as internal combustion engines running on synthetic e-fuels, the study also shows.

“Battery technology is very close to a threshold that makes electric trucks feasible and economically competitive,” said Björn Nykvist, lead author and senior researcher at SEI. Contrary to the general assumption that heavy battery electric trucks are too expensive and lacking the range to realistically decarbonise road freight, SEI’s report shows that if electric trucks can be fast-charged in the same way as passenger cars, the required range is dramatically reduced and electrification becomes far more realistic.

Tiziana Frongia, freight director at T&E, said: “The future of trucking is electric. Most urban and regional deliveries can already be covered by electric trucks today and long-haul electric trucks are only a few years behind. The environmental case is clear and now so is the cost argument. The EU should therefore speed up the transition towards electrification by setting binding targets for truck charging stations in the upcoming review of the infrastructure law.”

With currently close to zero truck-specific charging stations in operation, T&E teamed up with the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) to call on the European Commission to deploy 11,000 charging points for electric trucks across the EU by 2025, rising to 42,000 by 2030. This is necessary, the groups say, to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal.

The EU should prioritise charging alongside Europe’s busiest motorway routes – for example, between Hamburg and Berlin – according to the findings of a separate T&E study published this month. Targeting ‘hotspots’ for long-haul truck activity, which connect all major urban areas in Europe, would mean just modest investments in charging infrastructure would go a long way. Just 0.2% of the EU’s €100 billion annual spend on transport infrastructure would be enough to provide the right conditions to electrify long-haul trucking, says T&E.

Tiziana Frongia concluded: “The evidence is stacking up. If electric trucking seemed like a pipedream just a few years ago, it definitely isn’t any more. We’ve shown that it is possible. Will the EU make it a reality?”

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