Electric articulated trucks are ready to go, but there aren’t enough outlets to charge them

Lack of charging infrastructure is slowing the rollout of electric tractor-trailers, according to John O’Leary, president and CEO of Daimler Truck North America. Marijan Murat/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

  • Truck manufacturer Daimler has a production capacity of around 2,000 electric semi-trailer tractors per year.

  • He only deployed about a hundred.

  • Lack of charging infrastructure is slowing industry adoption.

Electric semi-trailer tractors are ready to go. The technology is there, the manufacturers have the capacity to produce it, and the demand will continue to grow.

Sure, the batteries are a little heavier than truckers would like, but that’s not what’s slowing the use of electric trucks on US roads. The problem is that there’s still no way to charge them for large fleets, according to John O’Leary, president and CEO of Daimler Truck North America.

Daimler, America’s leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer, introduced the Class 8 Freightliner eCascadia in May 2022, its first all-electric semi. Its current production capacity is about 2,000 trucks a year and it wouldn’t be difficult to double that number to 4,000, O’Leary said in a recent press briefing reported by Trucknews.com. But there are only a hundred electric trucks on the roads.

“In terms of using electric vehicles, the infrastructure mainly slows us down,” he said during the briefing. “Site selection, permissions, construction delays – all of this means that current timelines are measured in years, not weeks or months.”

If the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the United States is already insufficient for the growing number of electric vehicles purchased and used, it must quadruple by 2025 and more than eight times by 2030, according to a new report from S&P. Global Mobility – definitely not for big truck fleets with big batteries.

Building charging infrastructure for electric semi-trailers poses different challenges than charging infrastructure for regular electric vehicles: long-distance semi-trailers need to be charged relatively quickly, which requires significantly more time. electricity than conventional fast chargers for passenger cars, they need a lot of electricity for parking and shunt properties connected to the grid.

Most electric car charging stations have fast charging with around 150 kilowatts. To charge fast enough, a tractor-trailer would need something closer to a full megawatt and a station capable of charging multiple trucks with that amount of power simultaneously.

There are only a handful of places that can offer this, one of the first being Electric Island, developed by Portland General Electric and Daimler Trucks North America.

According to a December 2022 report from consultancy McKinsey, fleet operators report that setting up charging infrastructure can take more than a year.

And once built, the amount of power they need to supply could pose a challenge to the grid.

According to a study by electricity and gas supplier National Grid, experts predict that by 2035, a charging station serving both cars and trucks along a highway will need to supply around 19 megawatts of power. peak, roughly equivalent to the consumption of a small town.

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