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Can electric trucks really compete with diesel engines?

A new study shows that using electric trucks may be cheaper than diesel trucks. But only if an important condition is met: there must be enough fast chargers.

The electrification of freight transport is often viewed as useless, To write Researchers in Juul, due to the long distances the trucks travel. You will then need a large amount of batteries, which are as heavy as lead, and thus increase the weight and power requirements of the truck.

No more batteries, more fast chargers

This is why researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute look at the problem from a different perspective: They don’t want to charge trucks with batteries, they want to increase the number of fast charging stations. In the Swedish environmental researchers’ model, the trucks drove for 4.5 hours, then stood at the supercharger for 40 minutes.

In this setup, the cars need much less batteries, which greatly reduces weight and energy consumption. As a result, costs could drop to the current cost level of diesel, or even slightly lower. In addition, according to the Swedes, batteries are quickly becoming cheaper, which reduces costs even further.

The problem, of course, is that the Swedish-style fast charging capacity is not available at all at the present time. It will require a massive investment to build that capacity. However, according to the Swedish researchers, freight traffic is largely transmitted along a number of major routes. By installing fast charging stations in a number of strategic locations, you can determine the number of stations required – and thus determine costs.

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Battery or hydrogen cell?

Meanwhile, batteries are not the only sustainable alternative to transporting goods. Many experts see hydrogen cells as a more realistic alternative. Much will likely depend on how quickly the price of hydrogen cells – and batteries – is falling.

Will we all drive electricity in 2030? NPO Kennis defines odds, challenges, and strategies in class.

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