Electric Freight Trucks Cheaper, Going Longer Distances, & More Powerful Can Easily Meet 2035 Goals

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With CO2 emissions from new cars in Europe plummeting as the share of zero- and low-emission cars has tripled, plans and research support that the final transition is closing in. The EU is set to solely permit the sale of zero-emissions cars from 2035. One question is, will electric freight trucks become commercial long-haul trucks soon enough to meet that necessary transition as well?

Truck pollution and the resultant greenhouse gases make the case for stopping those bigger polluters as swiftly as possible. Can they adapt to this date? On that topic, Transport & Environment and Agora Verkehrswende, a think tank for climate-neutral mobility based in Berlin, commissioned a new study that explores how to get to 100% zero-emission truck sales.

The report clearly established that running an electric freight truck was the cheaper option economically. By 2035, that includes long-haul trucking. The report is proof to quell doubts over whether electric trucks can match diesel trucks. The report showed they will.

“The TNO report compares the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of diesel, BEVs and FCEVs and assesses when zero-emission alternatives become cheaper to own and run. Operational requirements — such as sufficient driving range, no additional time losses due to recharging or refuelling, and similar payload capabilities — are also important conditions for hauliers when switching to zero-emission trucks, and were included in the analysis.”

Graph courtesy of T&E

In fact, by 2035, T&E concludes that 99.8% of new electric freight trucks will be cheaper to own and run than diesel trucks. The study explains that this is while carrying the same weight of goods over the same distance and journey time. In fact, in nearly all cases, electric trucks will outcompete their diesel competitors in total cost of ownership sooner than that. Regarding that last 0.2%, don’t fret. “The tiny gap to 100% can be easily bridged by a handful of trucks making an extra stop, beyond what is legally required, to charge. Even with that additional stop, they would still be cheaper to buy and run.”

Fedor Unterlohner, clean freight manager at T&E, said: “Cheaper, stronger, further. EU lawmakers can set a 2035 deadline to reach zero emissions sales with confidence that electric rigs will beat diesel trucks every time. This will cut costs for hauliers and clean up trucking while allowing European truckmakers to retain their global leadership.”

An increased EU CO2 target for truckmakers of -65% in 2030 is also needed if zero emissions freight trucks are to reach almost 100% of sales five years later, T&E said. Sticking with the current EU climate targets for truckmakers would result in 1.3 million fewer zero-emission trucks on the road in 2035 [2]. T&E said stronger EU standards from the 2020s onwards would force manufacturers to deliver on their voluntary commitments to electrify. T&E, Already today, most zero-emissions trucks in the urban delivery segment beat diesel on cost and capabilities, but weak targets for truckmakers result in them not being supplied to hauliers. Graph courtesy of T&E
Electric freight trucks will match their diesel equivalents on distance travelled, the study also shows. It finds that almost all freight trucks in Europe travel less than 800km a day – which is within the range of the newest battery electric trucks when charged during the legally required driver breaks. Even the biggest electric long-haul trucks will be able to carry the same weight of goods as diesel by 2030 because the weight of the battery is offset by removing the engine and by a 2-tonne extra allowance for zero emission vehicles under EU rules. Graph courtesy of T&E

Wiebke Zimmer, Deputy Director of Agora Verkehrswende, said: “Progress towards climate neutrality in transport is not as fast as it needs to be. This makes it all the more important to fully exploit the technical and economic potential for emission-free road freight transport right from the start. In addition to ambitious CO2 standards for trucks, this also requires further measures such as purchase subsidies and CO2-based tolling.”

T&E notes that “the European Commission will make a proposal to tighten climate targets, including targets for heavy-duty vehicles in the coming months.” It seems that any such proposal should include a timeline for phasing out fossil-fueled freight trucks similar to the timeline for phasing out fossil-fueled light-duty vehicle sales.

Read a full briefing on this topic or the entire study.

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor. Pronouns: She/Her

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