The Future for Electric Trucks
The commercial transportation industry may not see a change overnight in its fuel power but engineers are developing new transportation models. Among these are radical changes in the body construction of both medium and heavy-duty trucks. These vehicles would resemble a Japanese style bullet train, leaving the old box look behind. Such designs will include lighter frames and more aerodynamic, conceivably increasing efficiency from eight percent to nearly thirty percent.
Reduction in drag from surface friction and wind resistance would vastly improve a trucking company’s fleet fuel consumption. This cost benefit could ultimately lead to more truck driving jobs and/or better pay for drivers.
Hybrid technologies are likely the bridge to electric-powered trucks. In most instances, current electric powered vehicles such as the Tesla Roadster, use a technology known as “regenerative braking”. This technology recharges the battery as the brakes are applied. A similar technology charges the battery when the vehicle is in operation, using surface friction to send a charge to the battery.
However, hybrid technology incorporates the use of fuel in conjunction with electrical power. This combination provides trucking companies with a guard against rising fuel costs. Trucking companies which converting existing vehicles or buy factory-built hybrid trucks will benefit the environment as well as reduce fuel consumption. The result would be lower fuel prices. Moreover, state and federal government incentives are available to commercial merchants which convert or switch to hybrid vehicles.
Presently, the cost to covert an existing truck can easily exceed the value of the vehicle. The purchase of new hybrids currently carry a sticker price of forty to seventy percent higher than traditional diesel powered trucks.
In addition to the sticker price, operating costs of a hybrid truck can reach $1,000 per kilowatt hour. This means larger batteries which are costly. Moreover, maintenance of hybrids would require technicians with specialized skills. Disposal of used batteries are another cost factor.
Conversely, trucking companies using hybrid trucks have a distinct advantage over trucks running on fossil fuels. Because hybrids are already fitted with batteries, a power source is available on-demand. This translates into savings, reducing accessory hardware, such as generators.
Trucking businesses would financially benefit from these on-demand electric generators.
Currently, there are approximately 9,000 to 10,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles are in use in the United States. That number is expected to increase to 100,000 in America and to 300,000 worldwide.
That increase would have a positive increase on medium and heavy-duty truck emissions. With the introduction of hybrid commercial vehicles, the environmental footprint would be substantially reduced.
Hybrid fleets would realize other gains. Along with increased fuel efficiency, hybrid medium and heavy-duty trucks would see a reduction in fees and charges when performing routine maintenance, such as the cost of oil disposal. Reduction in the weight of medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles with lightened frames could lead to cost benefits in other government fees associated with carrying freight.
Over the next several years, the commercial transportation industry will change significantly, starting with public transportation like buses and rail systems. Eventually, electric and hybrid trucks will be a staple on public roads.