Swedish automaker Scania is conducting trials of three battery-electric semi-trailers in Australia. The 25P models imported from Sweden, Scania’s smallest cab size with a range of 250 kilometres, have generated the interest of Australian councils and organisations.
The enthusiasm for Scania’s electric trucks has soared since the revelation of their regional electric trucks with zero emissions in June 2022, resulting in a substantial number of orders.
Currently, Scania is producing its third-generation electric trucks. Its latest electric trucks are offered in both rigid and tractor configurations, featuring options for R and S series cabs.
These vehicles are capable of handling gross train weights of up to 64 tons and boast an impressive range of up to 390 kilometres. They also support charging capacities of up to 375 kW and provide power levels of 400 or 450 kW (around 610 hp), which significantly surpass the capabilities of current conventional trucks on the roads.
Factors such as weight, operational conditions, weather, and driving style can influence the range. For instance, a 27-ton city tipper equipped with six batteries can anticipate up to 350 kilometres between charges.
A one-hour charge can extend the range by 270 kilometres, while a 130 kW charger can add 100 kilometres of range in an hour for a truck consuming 1.3 kWh/km.
“We are a bit stuck on the concept of always filling from 10 percent to 100 percent as we do with diesel,” said Fredrik Allard, senior vice president and head of E-mobility at Scania.
“With battery-electric vehicles, the mindset should be to charge for the required range instead: if you have 120 km to go to your Home Depot charger, it would be unnecessary to charge for more than that distance with some small extra margin.”
The production of these electric trucks is set to commence in Södertälje, Sweden. They are expected to become available in Australia in 18 months.
Northvolt Batteries Featured in Scania’s Urban Electric Trucks
Scania’s latest urban electric vehicles also come with updated green battery packs and adapted chassis. They offer services like Scania Charging Access, which allows seamless access to charging networks in 12 European countries.
A standout feature of Scania’s electric vehicles lies in the choice of battery cells from Swedish manufacturer Northvolt. These cells are capable of powering trucks for up to 1.5 million kilometres, all while maintaining a carbon footprint that is approximately one-third of the industry standards.
Scania’s batteries can also be repeatedly charged up to 100 percent of their state of charge window without any adverse impact on their lifespan. This consistent charging speed ensures predictable charging times, contributing to a low total cost of ownership.
This achievement comes from careful temperature management and collaboration with Northvolt to adapt battery technology for heavy vehicles with high-capacity batteries. Allard believed that ongoing concerns about charging will decrease as people better understand how these advanced batteries work.
“When we analyse operational patterns, it often becomes clear that the majority have sufficient range, with some margin. Tippers and similar applications in urban areas often cover fewer than 200 kilometres per day,” said Allard.
“With Home Depot charging and Scania Charging Access for backup, range will not be an issue.”
The ongoing transition to sustainable, fossil-free, and zero-emission transportation is a collective effort, with industry leaders like Scania playing a crucial role. Scania envisioned a significant shift commencing in Europe and the US, driven by customer demand for sustainability and the fact that electric trucks are becoming just as affordable as diesel trucks.
“The interest in battery-electric solutions is enormous, with potential customers everywhere. With our expanding portfolio and infrastructure, achieving Scania’s goal of selling 50 percent electric trucks in Europe by 2030 is well within reach,” said Allard.
Nikola Initiates Battery Replacement for Recalled Electric Trucks
As electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain traction, ensuring the battery’s quality has become paramount. Nikola Corp. has allocated a substantial $61.8 million to replace batteries in its recalled electric trucks.
The third-quarter financials of Nikola show a liability that has accrued to cover the estimated expenses associated with reengineering, validating, and retrofitting the 209 battery-electric trucks that were subject to the recall.
“Upon further investigation, it was determined that the compromise of the battery packs was not limited to only the coolant manifold,” said the company in a news release.
“As a result, our team has decided to replace the Romeo packs on existing customer battery-electric trucks with an alternative solution.”
In this case, Nikola owned Romeo Power. The company is solely responsible for the expenses associated with the recall, unlike many safety recalls where the supplier of the faulty component shares the recall cost.
Nikola had previously chosen PowerCell Sweden AB as the primary supplier of fuel cell stacks for their pre-production testing vehicles in 2017. PowerCell provided fuel cell stacks for prototype fuel cell systems developed by Bosch and delivered to Nikola for testing.
These systems were built around PowerCell’s S3 fuel cell stack, known for its market-leading energy density and compact design.
Per Wassén, then CEO of PowerCell, commented on the successful tests, saying that they met the required performance standards. However, in 2019, Nikola Motors decided not to use PowerCell’s fuel cell stacks in their trucks during serial production, citing unacceptable business terms.
“The tests have been going well but since we viewed Nikola’s proposed business terms as totally unacceptable, and turned them down, Nikola has decided to discontinue our cooperation for serial production,” said Wassén.
“PowerCell could, however, not accept the business terms proposed by Nikola for continued cooperation, why Nikola has announced that they do not plan to use our stacks when they start serial production of their trucks.”
The company, however, did not disclose the identity of the new battery supplier. Nikola reported an order for 47 battery-electric trucks from a single dealer in Q3 despite the recall.
Advancements in Battery Technology
The battery industry continues to evolve, with manufacturers striving to improve battery technology. The focus is on advancing solid-state batteries that promise to be lighter, faster, and more powerful than current technology.
Current cell phones and electric vehicles primarily use lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolytes. Meanwhile, solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes and have several advantages, such as increased energy storage and faster charging. They are also considered safer as they do not use flammable solvents in their electrolytes.
However, there’s a tradeoff in batteries between power delivery speed and energy storage. Thicker anodes and electrodes can store more energy but can slow down charging and discharging. Electric vehicle manufacturers seek to strike a balance between range and charge time.
Batteries with high energy density, especially those incorporating lithium metal anodes, have the potential to revolutionise the battery industry. The utilisation of solid-state electrolytes is one way to achieve this. Some companies, such as QuantumScape, are even exploring the concept of anode-less batteries to streamline the manufacturing process.
Despite their promise, solid-state batteries do face certain challenges, including the brittleness of ceramic electrolytes, which can develop cracks during charging. Scientists are still working on finding solutions to address these issues.