Electrifying the Trucking Industry Makes More Sense Than You Think

While electrifying the trucking industry might seem radical and not practical, it actually makes more sense than you think. According to a recent study, half of the freight trucks in the U.S. today could be replaced by electric versions and still make their deliveries.
Written by Emily Jansen
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Mar 9, 2022
A big truck driving down the road with an empty cargo bed.
The
trucking industry
has been an integral piece of America’s economy for decades.
It has been trusted to get the materials manufacturers need into their hands, the products customers demand to their doorsteps, for years. Trucking has been an important and reliable part of the traditional supply chain.
And as we look towards the future, it becomes clear that the trucking industry will soon need to join the movement towards
electric vehicles
.

Electrify the trucking industry

When we think of the trucking industry, we think of tradition. We think of the long history of using fossil fuels and the familiar internal combustion engine.
Many drivers can see and understand the growth of electric passenger vehicles. However, not many think electrifying the trucking industry is a good idea. 
The reason for this is primarily the range; the amount of time trucks spend with wheels on the road is much, much higher than passenger vehicles. Trucks are hauling loads down America’s highways all day, every day, for long stretches at a time.
Most drivers don’t see how a few batteries will be enough to power a traditionally diesel-fueled truck and trailer for a haul without stopping.
However, according to a
recent study
, the current capabilities of EV batteries could be sufficient for those
longer trips
down the highway.

Running on electricity

Major freight companies have just concluded the Run on Less Electric study, collecting real time data on standard daily deliveries made by electric delivery vans, box trucks, port terminal tractors, and heavy-duty semitractor-trailers.
Their findings showed that the trucks performed very well over a 3 week period. The study found that electric trucks faced no major problems with hauling loads distances of 100 miles or less. An important realization since almost half of all freight trips in the U.S. are 100 miles or less.
Furthermore, range didn’t present an issue as the trucks’ batteries never dropped below 50% on these shorter freight trips.
This could mean that a switch to electric trucks will become a growing trend for the industry, considering the benefits. After all, the demand for
electric passenger trucks
is also rising.

Still some hesitation around electrifying the trucking industry

However, those inside the trucking industry are still a bit hesitant about making the switch.
The Run on Less study showed that the current capabilities of electric batteries can meet the needs of those shorter trips, and those freight trucks can be electrified. With other
advancements in the EV industry
that can benefit the trucking industry, why not move away from fossil fuels?
Despite the numerous benefits to the environment and public health, companies are worried about the practicality of an electric fleet
EV charging stations are not as numerous as gas stations right now, and there is a real potential of overloading the local power grid. The cost of an electric fleet is also more upfront, even if owners will save on maintenance and fuel costs over the trucks’ lifespans.
Drivers are concerned about the shift towards automation, fearing the loss of thousands or even millions of jobs in the industry. There is also the very real threat of “range anxiety”, as explained in the study. Drivers are used to the fuel gauge telling them when it’s time to refuel.
Even so, the switch to electric makes the most sense for the trucking industry. In order to keep the industry and its millions of crucial jobs alive, it must have a future. In order to have that promised future, the industry must evolve.
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Nationwide
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Travelers
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