Working Paper 005: Long-haul battery electric trucks are technically feasible and economically compelling

TitleWorking Paper 005: Long-haul battery electric trucks are technically feasible and economically compelling
Publication TypeUnpublished
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPhadke, Amol A, Aditya Khandekar, Margaret McCall, Nihan Karali, Deepak Rajagopal
Date Published09/2019
Keywordselectric vehicles, transportation

Zero emission freight trucks are critical to meet global climate goals and reduce air pollution. Technological constraints and economic conditions have generally suggested that electrifying this sector is challenging; however, the emerging reality is different. We assess how recent dramatic improvements in battery technology make it technically feasible and potentially economically attractive to electrify heavy-duty trucking if charging infrastructure needs are met and cost-effective electricity pricing is available. We use the latest data on battery technology and detailed component-level cost and performance data for trucks to estimate the total cost of ownership of electric trucks. We estimate the TCO of an electric truck to be $1.27/mile, 20% less than that of a diesel truck, assuming trucks can access average industrial electricity prices of about $0.07/kWh which require reforms in electricity tariffs to make demand and transmission charges peak-coincident. We find that if environmental externalities, such as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are monetizable, the TCO of an electric truck could be as low as $0.95/mile, 40% lower than a diesel truck. We also show that electric trucks with a 250-mile range can have the same weight as diesel trucks with realistic improvements to battery packing fractions, and that weight parity for 500-mile-range trucks is achievable with commercially available lightweighting options and about 3.5% reduction in maximum payload capacity. We conclude that adequate fast charging infrastructure and electricity prices that reflect true system costs can unlock a major environmental and economic opportunity by enabling electrification of freight. If battery prices continue to fall and battery pack density continues to increase at even half the current rates, long-haul battery electric trucks will become dramatically more attractive.

Refereed DesignationDoes Not Apply