Electric truck: the current scenario, between traditional truck builders and newcomers
The electric truck market is getting lively, all around the world. It is made of traditional truck manufacturers, which have now a full portfolio of zero emissions vehicles, as well as newcomers, that is to say start ups or joint ventures approaching the market. We've tried to take stock of the current situation and mention some of the main products or projects announced or available.
The electric truck market is getting lively, all around the world. It is made of traditional truck manufacturers, which have now a full portfolio of zero emissions vehicles, as well as newcomers, that is to say start ups or joint ventures approaching the market. We’ve tried to take stock of the current situation and mention some of the main products or projects announced or available, starting from the latest figures related to the European Union.
The figures in Europe: 346 electric truck models registered in 2021
According to IHS Markit, a primary market analysis group, 346 electric truck models were registered in 2021. The highest market share is taken by Volvo Trucks (42%), whose range is made by several options: from the FH electric truck for interurban transport, to the FM for regional deliveries, up to the FE and FL trucks for urban environments. In addition, the Class 8 VNR range is getting increasingly popular in North America.
Let’s stay in Sweden with Scania, which is working to strengthen its production and testing facilities in Södertälje. As for the company’s electric truck offer, Scania is quite strong in the distribution sector (the 25 P electric truck won the Sustainable Truck of the Year 2022), with a very important order taken from Denmark, for instance. Additionally, some efforts have been put on very heavy-duty trucks by developing particularly strong powertrain components, e.g. electric motors.
The German voice: Mercedes-Benz and MAN
Daimler Truck made its strategy quite clear at the end of 2021 during an international event we could attend: battery electric trucks and hydrogen trucks are the two only options for the future of trucking. The very first Mercedes-Benz electric truck model produced in Woerth, the eActros for distribution tasks, was launched just before the summer and its mass production started in Autumn. In February, 2022, an electric truck was delivered to DB Schenker and another one to Dachser, two primary German logistics players. Another electric truck model, the eEconic conceived mainly for urban waste collection, is expected to follow from 2023.
Another German primary brand, MAN, has recently announced the release of its first heavy-duty electric truck in 2024, one year ahead compared to the initial schedule. As Head of Corporate Responsibility Stefan Klatt told us in this exclusive interview, MAN sees «the future of electric trucks as electric», with our neglecting the role of diesel-powered trucks for today’s needs. Talking about electric truck models, the eTGM is currently being tested in Germany.
IVECO and Nikola: the joint venture is blooming
There’s a celebrated and mooted joint venture behind IVECO’s electrification plans. Introduced at the end of 2019 during an international event in Turin, the partnership with U.S. based start up Nikola managed to overcome some trouble one year later. In September 2021, Nikola and IVECO inaugurated the shared production plant in the German city of Ulm (we were there). Then, Nikola started to sell several electric truck units in the United States (here and here some examples) and announced the collaboration with primary battery manufacturer Proterra. Even more ambitious plans deal with the FCEV version of the Class 8 truck, whose production is supposed to start in 2023.
Renault Trucks: a broad range for distribution
Another well-established manufacturer is focusing its attention on the electric truck market. Renault Trucks has been strengthening its workforce in Blainville-sur-Orne, France, to boost the production of electric trucks. As we could see in Lyon at Solutrans 2021, the D Z.E. range of urban and regional distribution trucks – up to 26 tons of the ‘Wide’ version – is very well-equipped to face the market. Some customers have already chosen these models in France and Italy, for instance. The 3.5 ton Master Z.E.’s range has been recently increased to 190 km.
Additionally, Renault Trucks has recently announced the start of sales for 2023 of two new models of up to 44 tonnes, namely the Renault Trucks T E-Tech for regional transport and the Renault Trucks C E-Tech for the construction industry. The two trucks, which will be manufactured in France, will be equipped with an Optidriver gearbox and will have two to six lithium-ion battery packs with a capacity of 180 to 540 kWh.
«Electric trucks, we bet on ultra-fast charging», told us Roberto Cortes, CEO of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, during a long interview whose main topic was, of course, electrification. The Brazil-based company, part of the TRATON Group as well, has already released the e-Delivery, the very first full-electric truck ever released in Brazil and already available for pre-orders in the LATAM markets. In addition, VWCO has signed an agreement with specialist CBMM to develop Niobium-based fast charging batteries to be used in electric vehicles with the aim of improving charging time.
DAF and Kenworth for the PACCAR Group
From Holland, DAF – belonging to the PACCAR Group – has focused its attention on the brand-new Next Generation diesel-powered trucks with improved aerodynamics and efficiency. However, the manufacturer is working on electric truck models, as proven by some trials conducted, for example, in the UK. Also, just like the PACCAR Group, DAF is putting a lot of efforts in creating valuable charging infrastructure to solve the issue of charging stations availability. Talking about other manufacturers belonging to the PACCAR ecosystem, in North America, Kenworth has developed its T680E Class 8 electric truck model. It was on display at CES 2022 in Las Vegas and the largest Kenworth electric truck order so far has been placed in February in California.
The North American one seems to be a lively market, indeed. The very well-established truck manufacturer Mack Trucks, part of the Volvo Group, has developed the LR electric truck, mainly used for waste collection and already ordered by the New York Department of Sanitation. Serial production of the LR electric truck is happening in Macungie, Pennsylvania.
Straight from the bus sector: BYD and Irizar
A Chinese truck and bus manufacturer, a giant like BYD, has launches its own electric truck models. The Gen3 8TT and 6F vehicles are part of the manufacturer’s portfolio and have already been ordered, mainly in North America and Mexico, even though the largest order outside Asia so far (200 Class 8 vehicles) was placed by a Swedish logistics player, Einride, working in the United States.
Irizar, too, comes from the bus sector. The Spanish group has been developing its urban electric truck model, the ie Truck, showcased at Solutrans 2021. With a low entry cab, the truck – a 27 ton one – is conceived for waste collection, even though it can be used for urban distribution. The first orders come from Spain and Switzerland.
The newcomers are roaring: Volta Trucks and Tevva
Some newly-founded companies, the so-called newcomers, are shaking the e-truck market with their ambitious plans primarily addressed to Europe. Volta Trucks has a Swedish founder, Carl Magnus-Norman with far-sighted mind. Initially, Volta Trucks releases a 16-ton distribution truck, namely the Volta Zero, which is currently in the testing stage and will be manufactured since the second half of 2022 in Steyr, Austria. The target is to put «5,000 trucks on the road in 2023», as Business Development Manager Anthony Buron told us. DB Schenker has already pre-ordered 1,500 electric truck units.
The UK welcomed another very interesting project, the one brought forward by Tevva Electric Trucks. In this case, the attention is focused on a 7.5-ton electric truck, intended for mass production in the UK. Tevva has already raised funding for 57 million dollars, the first deliveries are expected in Q3, 2022 and the target is to have around 3,000 electric trucks on the road in 2023. Something truly noticeable in Tevva trucks is the fuel cell-based range extender, capable to face the issue of range anxiety.
The Chinese hometruck
Let’s come to an end by mentioning an intriguing and bizarre project from China. DeepWay Xingtu is a heavy-duty electric truck equipped with 11 onboard cameras, as conceived for autonomous driving, too. However, also due to the collaboration with Pininfarina for the truck design, great attention was put on its “hometruck” nature. The electric truck is set for the so-called battery swapping, that is to say the possibility to change the truck battery, instead of charging it. Anyway, China remains by far the largest electric truck market in the world.