Research suggests two-pronged approach to charging strategy for electric trucks

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 9, 2022

While sales of electric vehicles continue to rise each year across Australia, the push towards renewable power in the local trucking sector has lagged behind due to a lack of charging infrastructure.

New research out of Edith Cowan University shows electric power may be viable for some segments of the industry in the very near future — it will just need a shift in thinking.

The ECU team has proposed a new charging strategy for small-to-medium-sized electric trucks that regularly return to a depot, such as delivery and mining trucks.

Research lead associate professor Iftekhar Ahmad said there was a two-pronged solution to bringing these types of trucks into the electric age: depot charging and in-route charging.

Turning downtime into charging time

“The depot charging is designed for applications where the ETs arrival and departure times can be pre-determined,” Ahmad said.

“Depot charging will be ideal for a small to medium-size fleet that follows fixed operational schedules and return to their depot, such as urban delivery trucks, after a certain interval.

“We call this a return-to-base model.”

Ahmad said if business owners could adjust their operations with depot charging in mind, suddenly a fleet of ETs could become more viable.

“Our proposed model considers the fleet size and their operational schedules to determine how to optimise their charging strategy so that the charging costs can be minimised without hampering their operational schedules,” he said.

Charge on the go

The research proposed an in-route charging model that can be used when drivers experience deviations in their operational schedules.

Ahmad said this model would see ETs be able to piggyback on the infrastructure progress in place for electric vehicles, such as plugging in to existing DC fast chargers during their daily activities.

He said the in-route charging strategy could see the average small to medium size delivery truck meet their daily operational schedules with minimum charging costs.

“In most cases, all you need is suitable charging points and enough space to park the truck.”

 An important shift

Amongst the different modes of transport around the world, road vehicles are responsible for almost 75%of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Of that, 40%of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere comes from commercial truck fleets.

Several truck manufacturers, such as DAF, Daimler, MAN, Navistar, PACCAR, Nikola, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Tesla have announced significant plans to electrify their respective model ranges, with battery sizes ranging from 300kWh up to about 990kWh.

Domestically, Linfox last year introduced refrigerated ETs into the Woolworths fleet, delivering fresh produce to stores across metropolitan Melbourne.