Medium and heavy-duty electric truck market to reach US$200 billion by 2043

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 11, 2023

The market for medium and heavy-duty electric trucks is set to reach US$200 billion by 2043, according to a new report from IDTechEx.

The IDTechEx Electric and Fuel Cell Trucks 2023-2043 report explores the future of the rapidly developing zero-emission truck market, covering battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell trucks. Despite the medium and heavy-duty truck fleet representing less than 10% of the global on-road vehicle stock, large diesel truck engines and high average annual mileage mean that the truck sector contributes around 40% of the global transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. This equates to about 5.1% of all global fossil fuel derived CO2 emission.

Governments around the world are tightening exhaust emission regulation and plotting timelines to net zero emission. This will, in the coming few decades, drive vehicle manufacturers to zero on-road exhaust emission powertrain solutions. OEMs and suppliers are increasingly committing to this transition.

Significant truck electrification progress

The past 18-months have seen substantial progress in truck electrification. lAmost all OEMs either have a battery electric model in series production or are committed to starting production within the next year. Supply chains are maturing, and major tier 1 suppliers are putting substantial resources into parts electrification and shifting focus away from traditional combustion engine powertrains.

Key to deployment of battery electric trucks is understanding the daily duty cycle energy demand. The high cost of battery packs means that optimisation, which minimises the size of the installed battery, whilst still delivering a full day’s operation, is likely to be the most cost-effective solution.

Many OEMs are offering consultancy services, working with customers to analyse the daily energy demanded by their operations, to then tailor the vehicle and charging infrastructure to that requirement. Modular battery solutions and a choice of electric motor sizes will help customers acquire the correct vehicle for their application. Working with customers is key to successful BEV truck deployment for these early generation vehicles.

Fuel cell trucks can provide long-haul range but face deployment challenges

Whilst the market for battery electric vehicles is beginning to take-off, the energy density and specific energy of current lithium-ion battery technologies can mean that the range of battery electric trucks is restricted by both the maximum weight of batteries that can be carried by a truck, and the available space for batteries within that vehicle.

According to the report, fuel cell technologies offer truck OEMs an avenue to greater range, whilst still delivering the crucial reduction in on-road exhaust emissions.

“Despite the technologies promise, reducing system cost and rolling out sufficient hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to make driving a FCEV workable, will be a challenge,” it said.

“Also essential will be the availability of cheap low-carbon ‘green’ hydrogen, which analysis in the new IDTechEx report highlights will be vital to FCEVs delivering the environmental credentials on which they are being sold.”

Heavy-duty charging / refuelling infrastructure needed

The report said installation of electric charging/hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is critical to the deployment of zero-emission trucks.

Part of any fleet transition to electric trucks will involve the installation of sufficient charging infrastructure to enable high utilisation of vehicles, the report said.

“For short urban duty-cycles, which do not deplete an electric truck’s battery over a day’s operation, low power AC depot charging should be enough for most vehicles to recharge the battery overnight. However, some long-haul truck applications entail a daily mileage far in excess of the range that can be delivered by a practical level of installed battery capacity.

“In these instances, DC fast chargers specifically designed to cater for heavy-duty vehicles will need to be installed both on highways and at points of regular loading/unloading to add considerable energy in less than one hour.

“The alternative is hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, which will require a network of hydrogen refuelling stations, along with the development of hydrogen generation and transport infrastructure.”