We have previously talked about how Tesla and Daimler are racing at the forefront of the electric truck movement. But, the electric truck movement goes far beyond just those two companies. The Tesla Semi and the Freightliner eCascadia are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve already spoken about how the largest limiting factor is the number of miles these trucks can travel per full charge. In spite of this, all major global truck manufacturers are investing in electric truck technology. They’re the future and everyone knows it. The smarter members of this market are experimenting and testing the waters. Daimler Trucks North America CEO Roger Nielsen had this to say, “I don’t want to get caught in some kind of race. What we’re trying to do is get the most experience [with electric vehicles] that we can.” In the true spirit of experimentation, some companies are testing out other alternative fuel sources.
In order to jump over the hurdle of limited mileage, companies have been investing in “helping hands.” The first of these helping hands is hydrogen fuel-cell technology. It would be used hand in hand with electric batteries to give electric trucks an extra boost.
Compressed natural gasses are used along the same vein. It’s also much less “experimental” in the sense of how widespread it is compared to the previously mentioned two. These are the crutches for the electric truck movement to lean on until electricity if viable enough. Why do these companies fully rely on one method? Companies aren’t big on hybrids. Martin Daum, head of Daimler’s global truck and bus division, explains that he is “not a big fan” of hybrids. “To me, a hybrid gives you the worst of both worlds. You still have to fulfill all the regulations on exhaust for any given diesel truck.” Not to mention, the electric battery in the vehicle and its already existing problems.
In a perfect world, all these issues with batteries and how long they can last are solved. However, getting the batteries to work optimally is just another step, not an endpoint. For example, a truck has traveled a long distance on a full charge. The mileage is amazing and the distance traveled is wonderful. But, energy is not infinite and the battery needs to be charged. There needs to be a charging station infrastructure in place in order for widespread electric vehicle usage to be viable.
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Does there need to be a large supply of viable electric vehicles before a significant investment is made in electric charging stations? Or, are electric charging stations going to be made in advance due to the highly probably emergence of mass electric vehicle usage? How much will the electricity cost? How far spread will stations have to be? What about regulations affecting electric charging stations? All these questions and more need to be answered.
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