The global market for electrified vehicles is accelerating as the world’s vehicle makers look for cleaner, more sustainable solutions as customer perceptions begin to shift. Passenger car EVs were the subject of my last editorial, but the focus this month shifts to heavy trucks.
MarketsandMarkets projects that the global electric commercial vehicle market will grow at an impressive compound annual growth rate of just under 40% during the 2017-2025 period, from just over 125,000 units in 2017 to just over 1,831,000 units by 2025. That “electric” descriptor is really of the electrified market, which includes BEVs, HEVs, PHEVs, and FCEVs (battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell electric vehicles) technology, as spans bus, truck, pickup, and van vehicle types.
The growth is expected to be driven by government mandates to restrict pollution, reduction in battery prices, and more rapid adoption of EVs in subsegments such as buses and vans. In terms of volume, the bus subsegment is estimated to be the biggest followed by the share of van, pickup, and truck. It is in that last subsegment that both Volvo and Daimler brand Fuso made news last month, releasing all-electric trucks.
Less than a month after Volvo Trucks unveiled its first all-electric truck, the Volvo FL Electric, in early May the company expanded its product range with another, the FE Electric designed for heavier city distribution and refuse transport operations with gross weights of up to 27 t (29.8 ton) and range of 200 km (124 mi). The first FE Electric will start operating in late 2018 in Hamburg.
A little later in May, Daimler’s Fuso handed over its latest all-electric eCanter to the first customers in the Netherlands. The lighter duty 7.5-t (8.3-ton) eCanters, with an output of 129 kW, a payload of up to 4 t (4.4 ton), and a range of 100 km (62 mi), are already in use by costumers in Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and the U.S.
While these trucks are not yet ready for long haulage, it does show interest from European OEMs in being the change agent for the goods delivery industry. For the more challenging long-haul duty cycles, stay tuned for the high-profile Tesla Semi and Nikola One and Two. Fully loaded, the Tesla Semi EV will be capable of a 500-mi (805-km) range in its top configuration. The Nikola hydrogen-electric trucks will be able to travel between 500 and 1200 mi (805 and 1930 km), respectively.
Why are these electrified truck launches so significant? In the European Union, the truck and bus industries combined account for about 37% of CO2 emissions, despite making up a much smaller proportion of the total road vehicle population, according to a recent IDTechEx Research report Electric Vehicles 2018-2038. Truck electrification can help reduce those emissions and provides other benefits.
The Volvo truck launch “opens the door to new forms of cooperation with cities that target to improve air quality, reduce traffic noise, and cut congestion during peak hours since commercial operations can instead be carried out quietly and without tale-pipe exhaust emissions early in the morning or late at night,” said Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks.
In an industry with tight margins, greater fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance could make some trucking operations more viable. In many advanced economies, the truck-driver population is shrinking due to long working hours and other socio-economical aspects. While electric trucks alone will not solve that issue, IDTechEx experts believe the integration of ADAS features like platooning and self-driving can aid the transportation industry moving forward.