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Considerations for the Adoption of Electric Commercial Trucks

Freightliner has been actively focused on electric truck development, aiming to lead the industry's transition towards cleaner and more sustainable transportation solutions.

By: David Jaskolski, Peach State's Expert on Alternative Power


Considerations for the Adoption of Electric Commercial Trucks

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the adoption and development of electric trucks. Considering that on average, semi-truck drivers drive 125,000 miles per year, the use of electric semi-trucks could greatly impact efforts to reduce carbon emissions and expenses. Many manufacturers, Freightliner in particular, has been actively focused on electric truck development, aiming to lead the industry's transition towards cleaner and more sustainable transportation solutions. 

Here are some things you need to know about the future of truck fleets with the ongoing adoption of electric semi-trucks.

What are some applications that electric semi-trucks will be designed for?

The eM2™ model is Freightliner’s medium duty truck, ideal for local distribution, food and beverage delivery, and last mile logistics applications like pickup and delivery.

The eCascadia is Freightliner’s heavy-duty semi-tractor also designed for local and includes regional distribution and drayage. Both the eCascadia and the eM2 have been undergoing real-world testing as part of Freightliner’s Electric Innovation Fleet initiative. This approach allows them to gather valuable data, feedback, and performance insights in real-world scenarios to further refine and improve their electric truck technologies.

How much can an electric semi-truck haul?

The eM2 is available in either 26,000lb or 33,000lb Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

The eCascadia is available in either a 65,000lb or 82,000lb Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR).

How far can electric semi-trucks go?

Range can vary with the driver, weather, and other factors, but the eM2 typically goes 180-250 miles, while the eCascadia is designed to go 115-230 miles on a charge.

How long do electric semi-trucks take to charge?

Charge time is dependent on three things:

  • Current state of charge (SOC)

The state of charge (SOC) is expressed as a percent. Similar to how much fuel is already in a gas tank, the SOC tells us how much power is already in the battery. So, charging a battery that has a 50% SOC takes about half the time to charge as a battery at zero.

It’s worth noting that the relationship to how fast the battery charges is fairly linear except at nearly empty and nearly full. At each end, the charge tapers to a lower rate to promote the health and long life of the battery.

An eM2 that is about “empty” can charge on the right charger in about 60 minutes to 80%. After 80%, the charge rate tapers off and time to 100% SOC varies. An eCascadia that is about “empty” can charge on the right charger in about 90 minutes to 80%. Like the eM2, after 80% the charge rate tapers off and time to 100% SOC varies.

  • The charger size

The size of the charger affects the rate the charger can supply electricity to the vehicle. This can vary greatly from about 20KW to about 350KW. The rate of charge in KW can be compared to the flow of a gas pump in gallons per minute (GPM). So the higher the KW or GPM, the faster a battery or gas tank fills. There is a limit with both being how fast the vehicle can accept the charge or fill.

  • The size of the battery

Battery size can affect how much power the vehicle can store and can be compared to the size of a fuel tank in a vehicle. The higher the number of KW for electric, or gallons for diesel, the more power is stored in a vehicle.

How long do batteries last?

It depends on the following factors:

  • What environment does the truck operate in? Batteries don’t like extreme hot or cold.
  • What is the duty cycle? Batteries are generally rated for the number of cycles, as opposed to time in years. Where a diesel fuel tank doesn’t care how many times you fill it, a battery does. So an electric truck running one shift a day will have about twice the battery life in years as a truck running two shifts per day.
  • The duty cycle also includes how much of the battery capacity you are using. A truck that runs in the 20% to 80% SOC range will have a longer battery life than a truck running 5% to 100% SOC.
  • Charge rate in KW also affects battery life. A battery being charged every day at the fastest possible rate will generally have a shorter life than a battery being charged at a moderate rate. Knowing this, it's important to consider what is referred to as “dwell time,” the average time on a normal day that the battery can be charging. Longer dwell times allow time for the battery to charge at a lower rate, extending the life of the battery. 

Can the electric utility grid handle the load now and in the future?

This requires a little planning and a conversation with local electric utilities. Most utilities can handle a pilot project of one or two trucks. But future additions of say 10 or more trucks may be more than they can provide electric power for without upgrades to lines and transformers. The cost to make the upgrades to the utility can be significant and may or may not be covered by the utility.

It is important to know not only if the power is available, but how you are charged for the power. Rates for power, when its used and how much is used vary greatly by utility and can significantly affect the OPEX of the project. 

Understanding where you want to deploy the chargers is also important. For instance, if you want to deploy the chargers at the customers distribution center, you need to consider who owns the property where the charges will be located. 

The success of electric vehicle adoption is dependent on an individual utilities’ ability to manage increase in power usage.  

How much do electric semi-trucks cost?

The upfront cost (CAPEX) can be higher than a typical diesel truck or tractor due to the electric semi truck’s high voltage batteries. However, depending on the fleets location, available grants and incentives could help bring the purchase price down. 

What is most notable around the cost of electric semi-trucks is the operating expense (OPEX) is normally much lower. This means that in the right application, the total cost of ownership (TCO) can be the same or less than a diesel truck or tractor in the same application, yet the benefits to the environment can be greater.

Peach State Truck Centers has subject matter experts on staff that can help model the cost of both the purchase and the TCO over the life of the vehicle to help you make an informed decision. Contact us to learn more.

There are a lot of commercials these days for electric cars. Does Peach State Truck Centers sell electric semi-trucks?

We do. We currently offer the Freightliner eM2 and Freightliner eCascadia. 

Not sure where to start? A successful electric truck deployment requires planning, but we can guide you. Contact us for an appointment to review if electric trucks are a good fit for your operations and help modeling the CAPEX and OPEX.


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