Last reviewed 15 April 2021

A new study published in the journal Joule by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) challenges the assumption that heavy battery electric freight trucks are unlikely to play a significant role in decarbonisation strategies.

It accepts that using heavy battery electric freight trucks is generally found to be of limited feasibility as a means of combating climate change, due to the high costs and low gravimetric specific energy of batteries. There is also the problem of ensuring that the range available to battery-powered vehicles matches that of diesel trucks.

However, in “The feasibility of heavy battery electric trucks”, available — here, the authors argue that, if electric trucks can be fast-charged in the same way as personal electric vehicles, electrification becomes much more realistic. The article suggests that the competitiveness of battery electric trucks compared to diesel trucks can actually improve with larger trucks if fast charging becomes available.

In their study, the authors developed a model where an electric lorry operated for 4.5 hours and then charged for 40 minutes on a high-powered device. Fast charging and not bigger batteries is the key to commercial competition for large-scale electric lorries, the article concludes.

“If you take that average value, which is our default analysis in the paper, we are really at the tipping point where this starts to make sense," lead author Björn Nykvist said. “It doesn't really matter about the size of the battery pack in the truck. You really just need more power from the charger.”