Electric trucks are on their way

When people talk about electric vehicles, they mostly mean cars – and to a lesser extent vans. The power and weight of batteries has made the development of electric heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) much more challenging. But some manufacturers have accepted that challenge, and the first electric HGVs are now hitting the road.

At the Tokyo Motor Show last month, Daimler unveiled the E-Fuso Vision One – an all-electric lorry that can carry about 10 tonnes of cargo and travel up to 350km on a single charge. The German manufacturer said it hopes to have the Vision One on sale in the US, Europe and Japan ‘within four years’.

That announcement came just a month after Daimler launched the eCanter – a much smaller electric truck with a capacity of around 3 tonnes and a range of 100km. The eCanter serves as a practical option for urban deliveries, whereas the Vision One is intended for ‘regional intra-city distribution’. Neither yet has the range for long-haul journeys.

A design in development

Tesla had also hoped to reveal its own electric HGV – the Semi – last month, but decided to push it back to 16 November to focus instead on building its backlog of Model 3s and helping to restore power to Puerto Rico. Reuters has reported that the Semi will have a range of between 320 and 480km, and that Tesla is working on giving it the ability to drive itself.

But it isn’t just the giants of Stuttgart and Silicon Valley who are bringing electric HGVs to our roads. The smaller British firm Tevva is developing its own battery-powered trucks – and is already converting existing ones to run on electricity. Their technology has been trialled successfully. The 7.5-tonne Tevva demo-truck can travel 160km with zero emissions, and has the potential for 480km with a range extender.

When can we expect Electric Trucks?

Despite the splashy announcements, it will still be a few years before electric trucks like the Vision One and the Semi go on sale – and a while more before they become viable options for long-distance trucking. In the meantime, there are alternative fuels for HGV fleets looking to go green, such as Bio-CNG, as described by CNG Fuels CEO Philip Fjeld on this blog.

Decarbonising transport is a vital part of the fight against climate change. It’s encouraging to see innovations like these that will help make it happen.