The Trucking Industry Has Begun to Turn Electric — But Passenger Vehicles Will Take a Little Longer

The Trucking Industry Has Begun to Turn Electric — But Passenger Vehicles Will Take a Little Longer

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Australia’s trucking business is making strikes to go electrical. The latest development — a system for utilizing swappable batteries as an alternative of time-consuming recharge stations for long-haul vans between Sydney and Brisbane — exhibits how this transition is gathering momentum.

There will likely be clear socio-economic, environmental and health-related advantages from the swap to electrical vans — for the broader group in addition to for the trucking business and truckies themselves. As electrical car researchers, we expect swappable batteries may work nicely for trucking, however are maybe much less appropriate for on a regular basis electrical automobiles.

Electric trucking

There are many advantages from electrifying truck transport. Companies resembling Woolworths and Ikea have already began to transition to electrical supply vans for the environmental advantages (and a doable enhance for his or her manufacturers).

Many main truck producers resembling Scania, Mercedes Benz and Volvo are continuing apace with trials and plans to make their vans electrical.

Mercedes-Benz 10 eActros electrical semi truck. Source: Electrek.

Trucks make up 20% of the autos in Australia, and Australia’s transport emissions are nonetheless growing.

Australia’s motor autos consume greater than 33 billion litres of fuel annually. The transport sector was liable for about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019.

Australia spent some A$31 billion in 2019 to import oil, with half used for highway transport. This not solely impacts Australia’s stability of commerce, however poses a threat to our freight business (together with grocery store deliveries) if geopolitical instability impacts gas imports (which primarily come from just a few countries).

The trucking firm Linfox seems to have understood the benefits that transition to electrical vans can deliver to its enterprise, and is among the early adopters trialling them right here in Australia.

Not simply trucking firms

Many large firms are making commitments to chop their carbon emissions, resembling Fortescue Metals’ goal of internet zero operational emissions by 2040. Its mining fleet operations account for half of its operational emissions.

Procurement of electrical vans by authorities and mining fleets couldn’t solely assist cut back transport emissions however sign to the group that the transition away from extra polluting autos will be executed.


Modernising the fleet is an crucial that we have to prioritise. The enterprise sector can play a key function within the success of the most recent Australia Government Technology Investment roadmap.

Innovative options such because the truck battery swap system imply that not solely large firms but additionally sole operators could make the change, by changing present vans and leasing batteries.

A typical articulated truck uses 53.1 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. A visit from Brisbane to Sydney may price greater than A$600 in gas (which you, the buyer, assist pay for whenever you buy transported items). Going electrical wouldn’t solely at the very least halve that price however cut back upkeep prices and cut back emissions, even when batteries are recharged from the grid.

Swap and go?

Swapping out depleted batteries, reasonably than stopping to recharge, is a good resolution for vans: they make common journeys alongside main routes with regulated relaxation stops for drivers, which implies you solely want battery-swapping stations at key factors alongside the routes.

However, battery swapping for atypical passenger autos could also be a special story. It has been tried earlier than, however didn’t take off.

A US-based firm known as Better Place, based in 2007, bought so far as organising trial stations (with one even deliberate for Canberra). But the corporate collapsed in 2013.

One drawback was that automobile producers would have needed to agree to make use of a typical battery platform to allow swapping, and solely Renault got here on board. Another was that the price of putting in sufficient battery swap stations to fulfill the broader group was monumental.

Trucks travelling on main transport routes received’t face this drawback, so battery-swapping has a greater likelihood of success.

How to go electrical

Our ongoing analysis on insurance policies to foster electrical car adoption has discovered that electrical passenger automobiles are principally recharged at dwelling. This means we want options to assist these with out off-street parking get entry to handy native rechargers. This will assist Australia cut back its stability of commerce issues, cut back our well being prices, and assist the atmosphere.

Nissan’s LEAF simply one of many electrical car passenger automobiles in Australia. Source: Nissan.

We simply must hope our authorities comes on board with appropriate regulatory motion to assist us all go electrical. One step is likely to be to observe the US authorities’s current announcement that it’s going to electrify its entire fleet of vehicles. This will assist automobile producers, assist deliver down carbon emissions, assist cut back the nation’s well being price range and likewise assist on a regular basis individuals cut back their transport prices, which might be fairer and extra sustainable.

This article is republished from The Conversation beneath a Creative Commons license. Author: Gail Broadbent, PhD candidate Faculty of Science UNSW, UNSW and Graciela Metternicht, Professor of Environmental Geography, School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney, UNSW.

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Cover picture of electrical truck by way of Volvo.

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