Report: Cost of Batteries Prohibitive for Heavy-duty Trucks

Berylls Strategy Advisors, a management consultant firm focused on automobility in Detroit under the Berylls Group umbrella, has issued a report that examines the impact of electrified trucks on decarbonizing the U.S. trucking industry.
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Fuso Canter e-Cell on the charging station
Berylls Strategy Advisors in Detroit released a report that details the impact of electrified trucks would have on the U.S. trucking industry. // Stock Photo

Berylls Strategy Advisors, a management consultant firm focused on automobility in Detroit under the Berylls Group umbrella, has issued a report that examines the impact of electrified trucks on decarbonizing the U.S. trucking industry.

The paper, titled “Zero-Emission Trucking in the U.S. — Will Batteries do the Job?” investigates the U.S. truck market, vehicle deployment, applications, and technologies to determine if battery electric trucks are the universal solution for decarbonization of the trucking sector.

The reports finds that while incumbent OEMs have been sluggish to introduce zero-emission trucks, investors are bullish about electrified commercial vehicles and funding for startups is readily available. The number of zero-emission truck models available in the U.S. jumped from 20 in 2019 to 145 today.

While the number of products available coupled with government incentives impacts adaptation, vehicle range and annual mileage continue to be the main factors that determine the technical and economic feasibility of battery electric trucks compared to other powertrain technology for fleets.

All manufacturers have announced electric truck ranges between 150 and 200 miles, and according to the North American Council on Freight Efficiency (NACFE), 98 percent of Class 3 through 6 trucks do not travel more than 150 miles daily. Consequently, these lighter segments can be electrified more easily and without the need for public fast charging infrastructure. Class 3 promises the highest overall market volumes – between 300,000 and 350,000 annually.

Comparatively, the heavy-duty truck market is more volatile with a volume of 200,000-300,000 units annually. These vehicles require high payloads and range requirements, meaning heavier and more expensive batteries.

One hundred miles of extra vehicle range costs 2,500 pounds of payload and an additional $20,000 for the battery, making the investment cost and payload penalty of a larger battery simply too high to justify the total cost of ownership, according to the report.

“Our insight shows that battery electric trucks can be competitive, but not for all use cases,” says Martin French, U.S. managing director of Berylls. “There will be a pluralism of powertrain solutions and any truck purchase will be preceded by carefully weighing the importance of technical fit as well as capital and operational expenditures.”

The paper takes an in-depth look at the following areas that fleets need to evaluate to determine the long-term feasibility and the value proposition from a carbon net-zero and business perspective:

  • Model availability
  • Lively competition between incumbents and startups
  • Electrifying light-weight trucks vs. heavy-duty
  • Complex system dynamics
  • Regional haul vs. long-haul feasibility
  • Alternative low-carbon fuels
  • Future outlook

This is the third in a three-part series on operations excellence that Berylls has issued to address the biggest hurdles facing the automotive industry in 2022. To download the report, click here.

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