Comparing options to electrify heavy-duty vehicles: Findings of German pilot projects
While the electrification of passenger vehicles is in full swing, for the decarbonization of heavy-duty trucks still various challenges exist. Especially the high energy consumption in combination with high daily driving ranges makes battery electric operation much more difficult than for passenger cars. Accordingly, a broad set of different drivetrains is discussed, inter alia hydrogen trucks, catenary hybrid trucks and synthetic fuels. One main advantage of the direct use of electricity in trucks is the high energy efficiency. Still, for heavy duty trucks different concepts for electrification do exist. Here, we compare battery electric trucks with a fast charging option, full electric catenary trucks and battery swap trucks. For a broad perspective, we use seven different comparative dimensions ranging from total cost of ownership to more qualitative but not less important aspects such as necessity of standardization, which would reduce manufacturer's decision-making freedom. We base our comparison on findings from German pilot projects. While battery electric trucks or battery swap are advantageous since they can be operated in niche operations and thus allow a demand driven rollout of charging infrastructure, catenary infrastructure needs high investments upfront which entails financial risks, but allows for lowest cost if utilized to capacity.