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There were just over 2,000 electric trucks on US roads at the end of 2019. This stock is expected to grow to over 54,000 by 2025, according to new analysis from Wood Mackenzie.
Although the electric truck industry has only recently begun to receive policy and financial support that the passenger and public transit sectors have benefited from, the emphasis placed on meeting global energy transition goals will drive the growth of this sector over the coming years.
“Compared to passenger electric vehicle (EV) and electric bus penetration levels, the electric truck market is still in its infancy.
“Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MDV/HDV) are the second largest contributor to US transportation emissions, but much of the emissions reduction efforts thus far have centred on new diesel technologies and hybrids rather than pure electrification,” said Kelly McCoy, Wood Mackenzie Research Analyst and report author.
Over Wood Mackenzie’s outlook period, the number of MDV/HDV electric charging units connected to the grid is also expected to increase exponentially.
There were roughly 2,000 electric truck charging outlets in the US in 2019. This number is expected to rise to 48,000 by 2025.
Electric truck charging can be achieved using the same approaches as electric buses: with plug-in, wireless and overhead chargers. Plug-in charging at freight facilities is the primary charging method in use today, while wireless and overhead charging specifically for electric trucks are still in the testing phase.
“Planning for this huge growth in electric truck charging infrastructure needs to take into consideration the size of the electric fleet, hardware and installation costs, charging technologies and battery size.
“However, unlike most other EV segments, electric trucks have a few distinctive considerations when it comes to charging.
“The range of most commercially available electric trucks is sufficient for their current applications (<300 miles). Since over 68% of city and regional Class 8 trucks are parked for more than 6 hours each day, many electric trucks may be able to rely on Level 2 chargers. Electric trucks with larger batteries or shorter dwell times will likely require DCFCs to satisfy their charging needs.
“Freight and cargo facilities were not designed to accommodate EV chargers. Chargers can be installed at truck parking spaces like how public chargers are sited today. However, trucks also spend significant amounts of time at loading docks and these tight spaces do not have room for a charger. Spaces like this will likely have to be redesigned to accommodate chargers.
“Finally, to minimize costs associated with installation, EV chargers should be sited near the transformer and load panel. Chargers located in parking lots may require extra conduit and trenching expenses,” added McCoy.
Although there are barriers to the mass adoption of electric trucks and the necessary charging infrastructure, the industry is working to combat these.
The Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) project aims to design the ideal regional electric truck configuration.
“Though this project is just getting started, there have been some early indicators that market participants should take note of.
“Fleet electrification provides operators with many financial and environmental benefits on its own due to lower fuel and maintenance costs and zero tailpipe emissions. Support from policymakers and utilities is just getting off the ground, and fleet operators willing to test this new technology can take advantage of incentive and pilot programs to advance their own electrification goals.
“The LIGHTS project specifically focuses on advancing electric truck technology but EV charger vendors also have an opportunity to develop advanced charger technologies and solutions. Retractable cables or underfloor mounted chargers are two examples of how trucks parked at a loading dock can be charged, though the installation process and cost need to be studied further.
“Utilities have an opportunity to provide advisory services to fleet operators as they consider electrification, particularly as it relates to installing and operating charging infrastructure within the capacity constraints of the grid. Offering incentive programs in exchange for data collection enables utilities to study in detail the exact impacts of heavy-duty electrification on the local distribution grid,” said McCoy.