Trucks Are the Next Major Frontier in Electric Vehicles

Trucks Are the Next Major Frontier in Electric Vehicles

In the highly competitive trucking industry, fleet operators seek to increase fuel efficiency as a means to reduce operating costs. In addition, regulations are prompting medium- and heavy-duty (MD/HD) vehicle manufactures to increase investments in technologies that can to boost fuel economy and limit emissions.

Design Modifications

MD/HD vehicle manufacturers are expanding fuel efficiency through the use of lightweight components and aerodynamic designs. For instance, in September 2016, Daimler unveiled its model year 2018 Freightliner Cascadia, which it claims is up to 8% more fuel efficient than its older Freightliner Cascadia Evolution truck, thanks to advances in aerodynamics and powertrain components. Similarly, Navistar emphasizes the fuel efficiency of its International ProStar ES truck resulting from its superior aerodynamics and optimized drivetrain.

Powertrain Technology

Suppliers are investing in technologies that improve diesel engines, but are also offering alternatives, including compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) engines and electric and hybrid powertrains. For instance, Paccar's Peterbilt Model 520 refuse truck is available with CNG or LNG engines, as well as diesel. In addition, the company unveiled a Model 520 truck demo with a battery-electric drive system in May 2017. New Flyer Industries’ Xcelsior bus is offered with diesel, hybrid, CNG, and electric engine options.

Electric Trucks

Industry participants believe MD/HD vehicles such as city delivery trucks and refuse trucks are a key target for electrification because they return to a central depot on a daily basis where re-charging can occur. As an example, a number of companies already offer electric buses for municipal transport applications. However, a major technological trend into the 2020s is the expected increase in the number of MD/HD electric truck models as battery technology continue to improve. For example:

  • Leading industry participants Daimler and Volkswagen plan to introduce electric trucks around 2020.
  • The FUSO eCanter, a truck brand majority owned by Daimler, is a MD electric truck with a range of about 60 miles that began small-scale production in 2017 and is expected to enter larger scale-production in 2019.
  • Nikola Motor Company, a new entrant to the MD/HD vehicle industry, is testing the Nikola One and Nikola Two MD electric trucks that are powered by hydrogen fuel cells and plans to begin assembly of 5,000 trucks in the 2020-2021 time frame.
  • Electric automotive company Tesla is developing an electric truck, expected to enter production around 2020.
  • Engine-producer Cummins announced in August 2017 that it would begin producing electric powertrains for buses in 2019; the company also plans to manufacture electric powertrains for MD/HD trucks in the future. As an example, the company introduced an all-electric truck prototype – AEOS, built by Roush Enterprises – that features a range of 100 miles and is designed for local deliveries.

Learn More

For more insights into the global MD/HD vehicle industry, see Global Medium- & Heavy-Duty Vehicles, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of the Freedonia Group. This report forecasts global sales, production, and park in 2021 for MD/HD vehicles by global region in units. Regions include:

  • Asia/Pacific
  • North America
  • Western Europe
  • Other Regions.

In addition, for the three main regions, sales, production, and park by major country are forecast to 2021.

To illustrate historical trends, global sales, production, and park by major region are provided in annual series from 2006 to 2016. For the three main regions, sales, production, and park by major country are provided for 2006, 2011, 2016, and 2021.

Related Focus Reports include Air Transport Services: United States, Freight by Truck: United States, Freight by Rail: United States, Freight Services: United States, Global Light Vehicles, Medium- & Heavy-Duty Trucks & Buses: United States, Transport Equipment: United States, and Water Transport Services: United States.

About the Author

Leon Mengri is a Senior Market Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. He conducts research and writes a variety of Focus Reports, which offer concise overviews of market size, product segmentation, business trends, and more.