Electric trucks face some unique challenges on the path to full adoption. Not only must they consider infrastructure factors that affect all electric vehicles - like vehicle range and availability of charging stations -but as heavy duty vehicles they also need more power to drive vehicles suitable for large payloads.
This is reflected in the rate of EV truck adoption around the world, which is markedly lower than for other types of electric vehicles. Despite the challenges, there is momentum and political will to pursue electric trucks that continues to drive the conversation around EV truck charging, the infrastructure hurdles, and how they might be overcome.
What are the infrastructure challenges for electric trucks?
Before the transition to fully electric transport can be completed, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed. The most obvious of these broadly categorised as infrastructure challenges - these being the physical equipment needed to support and enable the green transport transition. Among these, the key factors for be considered include:
Charging infrastructure: the scale and widespread availability of charging infrastructure to support EV trucks and requires a whole new network that is completely different to current trucking options.
Vehicle payload capacity: Long haul trucks carry heavy goods and require more power to transport their payload -this means eTrucks need bigger and better batteries.
Scalability of manufacture of EV trucks: Despite the emergence of several EV truck manufacturers capable of meeting large vehicle payload requirements, production is lagging behind the urgent pace of the transition towards electric vehicles.
Vehicle range capability: It’s not just about what goods are being transported by eTrucks, but where they are going. It’s vital to ensure that these vehicles can complete their journey with adequate range, or charging options available on route.
Capital costs: All of this infrastructure needs to be paid for - and typically the initial investment for EV trucks is more than for their fossil-fuel powered equivalents - despite being more cost effective overall. The primary question here is who is responsible for this and where can savings be made in the form of incentives and subsidies.
The solutions for some of these challenges are more straight forward and simply require the decisions or input of a handful of decision makers such as fleet operators. However, others are more complicated and demand attention from multiple stakeholders including governments, transport authorities and EV truck companies.
Improved grid connection and faster charging networks
Potentially the biggest infrastructure challenge lies in reorganizing existing energy grids. This must happen to accommodate faster charging networks that will pave the way for a seamless transition to universal electric truck adoption.
As the number of EV truck fleets on the road increases, so does the amount of energy required to charge them. This power needs to be delivered and stored where it is required along long haul eTruck routes -which in some countries can be far from the nearest town or city - where is can be dispatched from a charging site.
Getting power to these charging sites is a challenge for the grid, and for transport and energy authorities. In order to make EV trucks economically viable, these charging stations and infrastructure need to be built in places where they will be used by various types of commercial and passenger EVs.
These locations must also overlap with the ability to dispatch very large amounts of power from the grid. This limits the options for charging infrastructure quite significantly. However it is possible and the green shoots of early eTrucking routes are already sprouting in Europe -with its first electric truck corridor opening in Germany this year.
But the reality is that faster infrastructure, combined with longer range eTrucks is necessary to make the EV truck network feasible enough that fleet operators can save money and reduce emissions without impacting their current supply routes.
Are there Government subsidies for electric trucks and chargers?
Depending on the country, there are various government schemes and subsidies being announced to support the rollout of green heavy goods vehicles. This is in line with many policy packages that are designed to accelerate the rate of adoption of electric trucks.
In Europe, the 'Fit for 55’ bill commits the trading bloc - which is greatly reliant on HGVs for goods and services - to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
As part of this, a raft of supporting subsidies and financial incentives across the continent. Subsidies are constantly changing, closing or being adjusted but according to the IEA, Germany offers one of the highest EVtruck purchase subsidies in Europe, with 80% additional costs of the vehicle as well as the charging infrastructure covered.
Meanwhile, in the UK, after successful subsidies for EV cars, subsidies for electric trucks remain in place, with increasing focus on charging infrastructure. With plans to get hundreds more zero-emission heavy goods vehicles on the UK roads, the government announced £200million in funding to decarbonise road freight.
A plug-in grant for large trucks is also in place with up to £25,000 off the purchase price of electric trucks.
As fleet operators work on tight margins, the importance of capitalising on these subsidies and incentives is significant and will help electric trucks reach parity with ICE vehicles faster.
How Heliox can help fleet operators switching to electric trucks?
Despite the challenges ahead, the transition to zero-emission electric trucks on the roads is inevitable. Fleet managers who want to future-proof their operations must be sure that they choose the right partner, as they seek to introduce electric trucks.
As a world leader in EV truck charging and infrastructure, Heliox are the experts in helping fleet operators go emission free. Heliox has over 10 years experience in high-power electric vehicle charging in Europe and North America, and offers 24/7 customer support, charger care and maintenance and charging efficiency optimisation through remote connected services.
To find out more about how Heliox can help you switch to electric trucks, contact our EV charging experts.