US report suggest that freight sector electrification is within reach

Mon 12 April 2021 View all news

A new report from the US Dept of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California suggests that zero emission freight trucks are becoming an increasingly realistic prospect due to dramatic declines in battery prices and improvements in energy density. However, strong policy support will need to see the prospects realised soon.

The report says that at the current global average battery pack price of $135 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (realizable when procured at scale), a Class 8 electric truck with 375-mile range and operated 300 miles per day when compared to a diesel truck offers about 13% lower total cost of ownership (TCO) per mile, about 3-year payback and net present savings of about US $200,000 over a 15-year lifetime.

The researchers say that this can be achieved with only a 3% reduction in payload capacity.

The study makes the case for prioritizing public policy to help electrify long-haul trucking, which, they say, would deliver huge reductions in emissions.

The study authors also forecast that future reductions in battery costs and other expected improvements would result in a 50% reduction in TCO per mile by 2030. 

Berkeley Lab Research Scientist Nikit Abhyankar said: “Given the massive economic and environmental benefits, the case for long-haul electric trucking is stronger than ever before. Enabling policies such as adoption and charging infrastructure incentives, sales mandates, and cost-reflective electricity pricing are crucial.

Meanwhile the Brussels-based NGO has also published a study with similar findings.

T&E says that technological improvements have made electrification not just a possibility but the best option for decarbonising long-haul trucking. 

T&E's study highlights the need for a reliable high-power charging infrastructure as one of the biggest obstacles to progress for electrifying freight vehicles. It says that 4,400 high-power public chargers and 6,600 destination chargers will be needed in the EU by 2030 to allow trucking to achieve climate neutrality.

To achieve this, the report says, annual investment of €190 million, just 0.2% of the annual €100 billion that the EU spends on transport infrastructure would be required.

T&E says that 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.

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