At a time when California is proposing a ban on gas cars by 2040 and over 50% of new car registrations in Norway are PHEVs of some sort, it seems we can say for sure that the electric car era is here to stay. But what’s happening in the electric transportation sector beyond cars?
Transportation of goods, which includes freight, trains, ships, barges, and airplanes, accounts for around thirty percent of all heat-trapping gas emissions. The medium and heavy duty vehicle (MHDV) segment represents only a small percentage of the world’s total vehicle population, yet it comprise a large portion of the total fuel and energy consumed in the road transportation sector. Heavy-duty on-road vehicles amount to 70% of all freight transport and 20% of transportation-sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the US. “In Europe, less than 5% of vehicles are commercial vehicles or heavy duty trucks, but they contribute to almost 20% of greenhouse gas emissions,” says Ananth Srinivasan, mobility expert with research consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
Because of the relatively low average fuel economy and high annual mileage typical of MHDVs, fleet operators are beginning to consider investments in alternative directions. Electric short- and long-haul trucks have lots of financial appeal for professional managers: they are forecast to cost less in the long term than conventional fleets.
As battery costs fall and more options enter the market, global sales of all-electric trucks are expected to grow exponentially, from 4,100 in 2016 to 70,600 in 2026. “New and established suppliers are starting to offer alternative powertrains as well as complete electric vehicles for niche applications,” says David Alexander, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Limited daily range and a drive cycle featuring a lot of stopping and starting are applications that benefit most from electric drive capabilities, and delivery and refuse collection vehicles are expected to be the primary targets in the short term.”