Stringent emission regulations in China, North America, and Europe, coupled with the growing need for fleets to contain their operating and fuel costs in order to counteract volatile fuel prices, are prompting automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to roll out highly innovative and advanced electric trucks (eTrucks). Among the global regions, China’s aggressive promotion of eTrucks, through subsidies and large-scale installation of quick charging infrastructure, has established it as the undisputed leader in the eTruck market, and the country is poised to account for 61.1 percent of the global eTrucks sales in 2025. Despite the fall in battery pack prices, eTrucks still command a high upfront acquisition cost, equating to more than twice the price of diesel truck. To make these technologies affordable to customers across the spectrum, OEMs are also gravitating towards new business models such as leasing of trucks, along with battery or fuel cells.
“With battery prices declining by nearly 80 percent during 2010-2017, electric vehicles (EVs) are pulling ahead of hybrids as the preferred alternative powertrain among market majors (Daimler, Volvo, Scania) as well as startups (Tesla, Orange EV, Nikola),” said Chandramowli Kailasam, Program Manager, Mobility. “Wheel hub motor architecture and central motor architecture with induction motors are expected to gain traction among heavy duty (HD) and medium duty (MD) trucks, respectively, as North American and European eTruck OEMs look to reduce their dependence on highly expensive rare-earth metals that goes into making permanent magnet motors. However, Chinese OEMs benefit from easy access to these rare-earth metals, at a much cheaper price, and, hence, are predominantly using permanent magnet motors.”
Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Global Commercial Vehicle Electrification Potential and Trends, Forecast to 2025, provides an overview of the key trends in MD commercial vehicles ranging between 6.1 tonnes and 16 tonnes, and HD commercial vehicles in the above 16 tonnes segment. It covers the various factors driving the adoption of eTrucks and the top challenges from 2016 to 2025.
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“As the time taken for the refuelling of eTrucks will have to be comparable with the time taken to fill diesel, we will see huge demand for 350kW+ ultra-fast charging systems in the short term, and with Tesla Semi’s commercial launch in 2019, Mega Chargers with 1MW charging capacity will help shorten the charging time drastically. However, fleets and drivers will still aspire for a charging time on par with the diesel refueling time,” noted Darwin Sebastin, Senior Research Analyst, Mobility. “There will also be higher OEM investment in battery pack manufacturing and drivetrains. Fuel cells, in particular, will start gaining market shares post 2020 due to their higher energy density and light weight, which makes them ideal for long haul trucks.”
In addition to the advances in battery chemistries, the emergence of an eMobility value chain and demonstrable shrinking RoI are expected to raise the global unit shipment of MD and HD eTrucks to 250,000 units by 2025. There will be further growth opportunities in:
- Advanced battery technologies such as Li-Polymer and Solid-state-batteries
- Fast charging standards with 900+kW capability by CHARIN and CHaDeMo-China’s CEC
- Efficient and low cost drives as induction and switch-reluctance motors
- Exploring new markets in developing regions
- Widening product portfolios in eTruck space beyond battery EVs (BEVs) and stepping into fuel-cell EVs (FCEVs)