A recent study by Chalmers researchers Johannes Karlsson and Anders Grauers revealed that electrifying heavy trucks for long-haul cargo transportation is more cost-effective than diesel. This finding is especially significant when considering a representative line-haul service between terminals within a primary logistics system.
Funded by the Swedish Transport Administration and partnered with Volvo Trucks, this study examines the financial implications of a haulage company transitioning from line-haul diesel trucks to battery-electric vehicles.
It analyzes factors such as optimal battery size, the advantages of utilizing public fast chargers alongside the company’s charging infrastructure and public fast chargers’ profitability.
The research also estimates the potential extra cost related to reduced payload capacity and investigates whether charge-point operators should meet peak charging demand.
The study found that companies could benefit economically from using public fast chargers to power their electric vehicles, as it observed a realistic possibility that the utilization factor of the examined public fast chargers may exceed 20 percent.
Details About the Study
The researchers utilized data from a real haulage company based in Helsingborg to construct a model that accurately represents the tasks and conditions typically encountered by such companies in the region, particularly for long-distance operations.
The study examined the impact of two battery sizes: a large battery that could be charged exclusively at the company’s depots, reducing load capacity and a smaller battery that required on-road quick charging but had lower cargo capacity demands.
The findings demonstrated that the haulage company analyzed in the study could attain profitability by adopting electric vehicles. The researchers considered the cost of diesel to be €1.20 per liter and the cost of fast charging to be €0.17 per kilowatt hour and €0.40 per kilowatt hour, excluding VAT.
In addition, they assumed that expenses such as service and maintenance would be identical for trucks, regardless of whether they were powered by electricity or diesel.
According to Karlsson, electrifying heavy trucks at a cost equivalent to or lower than diesel-powered trucks is often feasible, provided the appropriate battery size is selected.
The optimal battery size depends on the nature of the transported goods, with light loads like packages or vegetables requiring different battery capacities than heavy loads like drinks or wood.
Factors such as driving patterns and the cost of fast charging also play a crucial role in determining the ideal battery size. Karlsson envisions a future scenario where trucks are equipped with varying battery sizes to accommodate these considerations.
The researchers have emphasized the presence of upfront costs when investing in batteries and charging infrastructure. However, their previous study demonstrated that for the investment to be economically advantageous, the battery of an electric truck should undergo a minimum of 1,400 charge and discharge cycles.
It is worth noting that this threshold is typically exceeded by most commercial vehicles throughout their lifespan.