The dawn of electrified trucking

Routes to decarbonizing commercial vehicles

Electrically powered trucks will largely replace conventional trucks in large parts of the world within the next 15 years. As early as 2030, zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) powered by batteries or fuel cells will account for one-third of all trucks in Europe, North America and Greater China. By 2035, their share in these markets will rise to around 70%. The change is being accelerated by increasingly strict regulatory requirements and simultaneously decreasing total cost of ownership (TCO) for ZEVs. In Europe, the war in Ukraine is also increasing the pressure for transformation: many governments are currently realigning their energy policies and reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.

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Key findings

In the US, EU, and Greater China, we expect a electric truck market diffusion dominance from 2035 with ~70%

Battery electric trucks outperform internal combustion engine technology reaching a cost advantage of ~30% in 2030

Electric vehicle volume requires a quick ramp-up of the new infrastructure network translating into ~2,000 stations by 2035

Battery electric and fuel cell trucks are the most promising powertrain technologies for the future

BET and FCT technology are regarded as competitive technologies for the future due to decreasing vehicle costs, declining energy prices and public acceptance – the competitiveness of overhead catenary hybrid trucks (CAT) and synthetic fuel-powered ICE trucks (SYT) is questionable: for CAT, high upfront investments paired with underutilization of infrastructure is expected, while SYT requires high primary energy investments. Alternative powertrains translate into additional vehicle costs of approximately €90k for long-haul BET and FCT in 2030 – the cost gap shrinks over time, with medium-duty BET coming close to ICE costs by 2035.

Purely battery electric truck
(BET)
BET

Direct use of electricity in electric motor for propulsion, ander battery used as energy storage

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell truck
(FCT)
FCT

Fuel cell to transfer hydrogen into electricity to be used in electric motor for propulsion

Overhead catenary hybrid truck
(CAT)
CAT

Small battery used as energy storage, as main energy is transferred via catenary

Synthetic fuel- powered ICE truck (SYT)
SYT

Conversion of electricity into carbonaceous fuel or “synthetic fuel”; internal combustion engine used for propulsion

The build-up of public truck charging infrastructure is required now

Different options are available to enable alternative powertrains for truck traffic: high-performance highway charging, low speed overnight depot charging or hydrogen refueling stations (HRS).

Expected BET volume rise by 2025 requires action to build up a pilot charging network by 2023 and up to 120 megawatt charging systems (MCS) stations by 2025 to enable an area-coverage network – with total investment up to €1bn.

In the long-term, further ramp-up of charging and refueling infrastructures is required capacity-wise. In Europe, a high-demand scenario needs 1,800 charging parks and additional 600 pure overnight parks with a required investment of up to ~€36bn.

Battery electric trucks outperform internal combustion engines from 2025 onwards when it comes to total cost of ownership

By reaching a cost advantage of 26-34% in 2030, fuel cell trucks achieve TCO competitiveness versus ICE.

Among the elements analyzed, TCO is to a large extent driven by energy costs – variances in future energy prices result into TCO shifts of up to ± 14 €-ct/km change versus the base scenario.

The electricity price corridor of 16.2-28.8 €-ct/kWh for BET charging is mainly driven by political-economic factors, energy demand size and infrastructure mark-up – fleets with ambitions for electrification have to mitigate electricity price risks in the short-term.

Market outlook

In 2030, we expect 25-35% of BET/FCT production in the triad markets, which translates into ~200k units in North America and Europe respectively, ~500k units in Greater China – BET/FCT share increases to ~70% in 2035.

Electrification is mainly driven by TCO and regulation, with Europe and Greater China as front runners – charging infrastructure readiness is a key prerequisite for ramp-up.

Increasing ZEV diffusion and battery capacities result in a significant truck battery demand of ~170GWh in Europe by 2035, >800 GWh in the triad markets.

Since zero-emission trucks will make up a third of the European market by the end of this decade, OEMs need to:

  • build up an attractive zero-emission portfolio
  • support infrastructure availability
  • prepare the value chain
  • offer attractive financing

Andreas Thalmair, Tobias Kasseroler,  Steven Van Arsdale and Lorenz Kehrbein also contributed to this report.