Unlocking electric trucking in the EU: recharging along highways

April 21, 2021

Limits to battery range and fast charging infrastructure have previously made the electrification of long-haul trucking difficult. However, technological improvements have made this not just a possibility but the best option for decarbonising long-haul trucking.  As charging remains one of the biggest challenges, T&E's study assesses the charging infrastructure needed for long-haul trucking to become carbon neutral.

Trips over 400km make up around 5% of all trips in Europe but represent 40% of the EU’s total truck activity (in tonne-km). They account for an estimated 20% of truck emissions. Most urban and regional deliveries can already be covered by electric trucks today and ong-haul electric trucks are only a few years behind. Battery electric trucks with ranges beyond 400 km will come to the market within the next couple of years and are likely to represent the most cost-competitive option.


  • T&E’s analysis on European truck traffic flows shows that the EU should prioritise charging alongside Europe’s largest highway corridors, e.g. between Hamburg and Berlin. Targeting the core network of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) would be the best strategy. The deployment of truck charging infrastructure should start with the regions connected by the TEN-T network’:
    • These regions are ‘hotspots’ for long-haul freight activity as they connect all major urban areas in Europe.
    • Trips coming to or from these regions make up 80% of the total EU road freight activity (tkm) and 88% of total long-haul activity.
  • For long-haul trucking to achieve climate neutrality there needs to be a total of 4,400 high-power public chargers in the EU and 6,600 destination chargers (at the distribution centers + depots) in 2030in addition to the 13,000 public chargers and 25,000 destination chargers needed for urban and regional deliveries. In total, this is around one public charger for every 35 electric trucks and one destination charger for every 21 electric trucks.
  • This amounts to an annual investment of €190 million, just 0.2% of the annual €100 billion that the EU spends on transport infrastructure.

The revision of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID), planned for June 2021, should finally cover electric trucks and recognise direct electrification as the dominant pathway to decarbonise. Overall the revised AFID should aim at a total of around 10,000 public and destination chargers in 2025 (EU27) increasing to 40,000-50,000 public and destination chargers in 2030. To ensure these targets are effectively reached, the EU should set minimum binding targets for each member state.

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