Are Diesel HD Trucks Dead: Will Electric Pickups Replace Them? Video

FEB 13 2019 BY MARK KANE 84

Replace the diesel heavy-duty trucks with electric?

The Fast Lane Truck continues its No, You’re Wrong! series with another episode concerning electric drive as an answer.

This time, the questions are:

Raising such questions indicates that electrification matured enough to draw such scenarios as possible.

With General Motor and Amazon both expressing interest in electric pickup truck maker Rivian, we sort of think a shift-change lies just ahead. Will the world of trucks go electric? Maybe not overnight, but without a doubt, its bound to happen soon enough.

Diesel engines have many drawbacks and especially after the Volkswagen diesel-scandal, many seeks for alternatives, which is not easy to find. Fast Lane Truck wonders about gasoline engines combined with electric motor and batteries to ultimately get more torque and better fuel economy. Or maybe we just need fully electric trucks instead?

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84 Comments on "Are Diesel HD Trucks Dead: Will Electric Pickups Replace Them? Video"

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HD Diesel Pickup market is nothing like the diesel car/crossover/SUV market.
The former makes their choice on power, durability and range, and in a distant last place: fuel economy.
Electric can meet the first two easily.
Range: no chance in the near term. HD trucks have a second fuel tank option for a reason.

The only way you’ll get a HD Diesel Pickup owner to go electric is if they didn’t need a HD Diesel Pickup in the first place.

That or build a BEV pickup with a 1/2MWh pack for less than $100k.

Diesel electrics will never catch on /s

Diesel electric is awesome but the cost is just too much. Diesel already cost more upfront compared with gasoline power train. Add battery and electric motors to it, it will easily add another $10-$15K on top of the $5K to $10K diesel premium.

Modern gas engines are close to diesel for thermal efficiency these days. Also, Atkinson cycle is better suited to EV hybrid as the EV motor torque balances the low torque output of the gas engine.

Take Clarity PHEV for example, I regularly get over 40 mpg running E10 in a 4000+ lbs car fully loaded (closer to 5000 lb) at 75 mph with no hypermiling. That is comparable or better than a similar diesel which has more energy in the fuel.

Expect it in 5 years.

Right on. Batteries are about 20 years out from being this capable unless we get a sudden breakthrough – which is always 5 years away we are told.

No breakthrough just steady improvements in production. Lithium ion battery cost has been improving about 15%/year on $/kw-h. That is a 55% cost reduction over 5 years without a breakthrough. Tesla batteries are estimated to be around $125/kw-h, most others $150. That puts the cost of a 500kw-h battery at between $28000 and $34000 in 5 years. Very comparable to the price of a heavy duty diesel powertrain. Add in fuel savings and no reason for a diesel at all anymore.

Really good to watch video first before commenting.

The guy is pointing out that what’s going on is preparation for a Gas Engine / Electric motor hybrid to take over for diesel. Diesel is hard to get into EPA compliance, if not impossible in future years.

And Fleet buyers do the math differently: Operational Expense and then towing capacity are tops. Range? No one really needs 600 miles of diesel range. Not a business buyer.

I don’t see any reasonable way to believe that BEV pickups won’t eventually replace gas- and diesel-powered pickups. Continuing improvements and declining costs in EV batteries make that inevitable.

But it’s rather premature to pronounce the dino juice powered ones as “dead”, innit? A decade from now, we’ll very likely still see some being sold, altho hopefully by that time we can make a realistic projection of when that will dwindle away to a mere niche market.

10 years sounds about right. if there is large scale ev semi truck adoption, then hd trucks will likely follow. Brian is right though, range and price will have to be competitive, this will also be true for large scale ev semi adoption as well.

I think it will go quickly once it starts. The supporting infrastructure for fossil fuels will lose support as electric takes maketshare.
Once gas and repair stations start to close and people have to travel to get fuel and repairs, diesel will end quickly.

Average ownership of cars are 11 years now. Diesel owners keep their cars even longer. So, there are lots of existing models that will continue to feed those stations.

Combined with commercial trucks for work are mostly diesel as well. That is also a big market which electric trucks will have harder time to break in.

Your right, and it’s even longer than that. It takes 20 years to just turn over 80% of the fleet. That is, if we stopped making ICE of any kind in 2020, by 2040, 20% of the cars on the road would still be ICE. It’s easy to see why too, very few people on average can actually afford new, or even reasonably new cars. I have a 14 year old car, and a 13 year old car. Both run fine. Why should I spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy a new car? Even a new electric car? So barring me becoming upper middle-class 10%er I don’t forsee owning an electric car until they are at least 10 years old, and have a good reliability record.

You are assuming that gas stations will still be around once market share drops. They won’t. It will only take a 20% drop in market share to cause city and neighborhood gas stations to start closing everywhere except the highways. The highway stations will hold on for another 5 or so after that.

2017 was the peak year for light vehicles with ICE. Don’t expect it to go back up.

It may as well be dead. I never thought I would see a day when I couldn’t buy a 3/4 ton 4×4 pickup with a manual transmission.
I ordered a F350 4×4 with the old 7.3 in 1993
Coast $17,500 and Diesel fuel was $.060 / gal
Now the same truck is $50k plus an no manual.
I’m a rancher and I use a truck like they were intended to be used, 95% of them out there are today’s station wagon and in that context an electric HD pickup is fine for the socker mom or the guy that runs 38″ tires and needs a step stool to get in the thing.
Sadly I’m a dieing breed and so are the trucks I need and use. Give me a regular cab 4×4 Cummins and a 6 spd manual transmission with a radio and AC. That’s what a truck should be. CANT HAVE IT!

Your old pickup with a Cummins engine in it will, with a bit of care, outlive some of the newer trucks on the market.

lol. yep these old diesels will be around a long time. It will be the cost of diesel vs cost to charge and the massive torque of electric that will eventually start the transition to new purchase of hd trucks from diesel to electric, but that cost parity is still probably atleast 10 years away. It won’t be for environmental reasons, it will only be for cost/utility reasons.

I agree. It’s silly to think electrics won’t take over. They just make too much sense in so many ways. However, they have one major problem, the battery. It will continue to get better and better, but it’s equally silly to think it’s just around the corner. Remember that batteries have about doubled in energy density since Tesla got started and 13 years later it’s still not possible to make an electric car match a humble Civic in range, power, weight, and price.

Electric is the future, a future about 20 years away, barring an unforseen advancement in battery tech.

My HD diesel can go 600 miles on a fillup. I don’t “need” to go that far between fillups, but have done >900 miles/day before. It wouldn’t kill me to have to stop for 10-15 minutes every 400 miles (gotta pee, too). But to get that many miles added that fast in an EV fill-up, it’d have to be a huge battery and well over 350kW charging.

I concluded a while ago that HDEVs will have to use the Tesla Megacharger. Otherwise, they would be near useless as even a Supercharger would take all day to charge a 500kw+ battery.

Maybe by then you can buy a 8 cable semi-converter to 4 Tesla Superchargers on the cheap since Tesla will have the ones they are using on their Silver and Red Semi’s to drive around. Check EBAY in a few years, for an extra good deal.

“Wouldn’t kill me to stop for 10-15 minutes every 400 miles ”
Wait, what? That’s like 6 hours!
I’d be on my second or third stop….

Yeah, I’ve got a tough bladder. 😉 The older I get, the harder that is for me to do though.

Yes, eventually as they have more power, torque, speed, and pollute a lot less. It’s merely a matter of time. For construction dudes you have a built in power reserve to run tools, so you could use the truck to run, or recharge all that stuff.
For urban cowboys they would be a chick magnet, not stinky, and clunky, like a diesel.
10 years at the outside for non electric trucks, at least new ones, though people will keep the old ones running for years.

I think your severely underestimating the power consumption of commercial grade tools/equipment. There is absolutely no way now or in the near future to run hydraulic equipment,welders, or even drills of the battery pack that would also power the truck. The family 1/4 ton truck will probably be electric 15-25 years from now, but not 1 ton rated or higher trucks. Electric motors and battery packs needed to move a 9000lbs+ offroad welding truck would be outrageously inefficient compared to todays diesel drivetrains.

I think you severely overestimate power consumption. A 200kWh battery can run the average house in the US for almost a week:
Yes, certain commercial equipment will always need more, but the average carpenter/plumber/electrician who uses a truck could easily make it with a Rivian sized battery.

But they still need to get home after the work in the cold with heat on after they finish their jobs onsite….

200kWh battery even at $60/kWh will cost $12K.

Dont forget there will be charge stations along the way home.. and don’t obsess on weight. Regen will get you some of the extra fuel use back. Weight is not such an issue with electric.

A 2170 battery weighs 1,200 lbs, a 6.7 Cummins weighs 1050-1150 lbs. A 2170 battery can take up to 12 hours to charge from empty. A diesel takes a few minutes to fill. 100 lbs of diesel at 15 mpg gets 215 miles, at 20 mpg 286 miles. The battery severely limits the trucks endurance just by taking half a day to charge. Carpentry, plumbing, electrical are not the professions using 1 ton+ rated trucks, they mostly use vans. Construction, welding, forestry, etc. use heavy duty trucks with equipment that weighs a lot with high power consumption. So using a house as a comparison makes no sense.

A large number of users don’t refuel every day. As long as you have enough charge for a day and recharge overnight you are fine. This won’t work for all people, but a lot. Also, if car charges 80% in 30 mins longer trips could be done, especially if not traveling really long distance (like only 1 charge). Charge for lunch and continue rest of trip.

Better for running tools would be a PHEV, powerful generator to keep tools running all day, even those using 10 kW of power. Generator in a Volt is 55 kW, but charger can’t put out that much so would be limited in drawing power out the car (though GM could make a PHEV truck put out massive amounts of power all day).

A 240V welder drawing 40A is less than 10kW draw (that is for a 100A welder). Running continuously for 10 hours is still only 100kWh. And no welder runs continuously for 10 hours. The uses you cite are low % of the hundreds of thousands of trucks sold each year. And yes, 1 ton+ trucks are all over the place on home builder sites around here. I agree there will be outlier uses that will need more than a 200kWh battery can support, but those are not the norm. But then, those trucks typically have their own generator in the bed in addition to the diesel engine, so they can still use an EV truck with the same generator in the back that they have now.

You forgot the transmission weight, the Radiator weight, the exhaust treatment system weight and the rear end weight.

While that’s true, the average contractor doesn’t need a generator in the first place, so the battery requirement is less useful for them.

That said, a big battery would be great for campers and travellers. No more “house” batteries required, just plug your lights and coolers into the main battery.

You can already buy lithium batteries that are direct lead acid replacements. Can be deeply discharged with no damage.

Sure, but you still need to buy them (they’re 2-3x the price of lead acid) and you still need to charge them.

Note, I didn’t specify the type of battery, just mentioned “house” battery (i.e. secondary battery used for camping needs, rather than car needs).

Any time the daily range is fairly consistent, a battery can be made right sized for that range and will outperform the diesel/gas version on cost and torque. Range would not be an issue. Range only comes to play with the outlier day when more mileage is needed… so one must endure a half hour charge, or may be down to 15 minute charge in the next few years. Don’t forget, the EV leaves home each day with a full “tank” of electric.

I think the Truck market will flip fast, because these guys don’t give a Dmmm about what you think about what they drive.

Sure, they will probably replace most of them at some point in the future. When is another matter. Realistically it’ll be a decade or more before they start selling significant volume (due largely to the battery requirements and cost).

Trucks like the R1T will not replace them however, they’re nowhere near built with the capability to do so, even if they do match them in torque.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Dear Rivian…

Please offer an additional charger that is capable of using a Tesla SC (120kW) along with the CCS.
I would be more than happy to pay $700 for that capability.

I bet Tesla changes the US network to CCS in five years.

With a Tesla CCS adapter, there will be little incentive for Tesla to swap out their cables and charging protocol.

It would be a nice lost leader, if Tesla did have a token free CCS /CHAdeMO charger at Road Trip locations (rural), to allow free one time use for non Tesla vehicles in an emergency. Great advertising sometimes comes in non traditional methods.

Pretty unlikely, considering GM just invested in Rivian.

In a way the “big four” are doing their best to make sure BEV trucks take over.
For years they have all gone greedy pushing up the price of the their trucks until todays market where its impossible to find a none-fleet diesel for less than $45k, most are 50k plus

What is the point of a comparison of a “Yuppie Truck” (with an undersized Bed) with an HD pickup that is used mainly for work? If electrics do replace them – maybe it will be something from a future Tesla but it won’t be this Rivian.

A more realistic comparison would be between the Rivian and the discontinued Caddy Escalade pickup. That’s a Yuppie to Yuppie comparison.

I call the Rivian a Social Justice Warrior pickup. Has just enough room in the bed to fit a weeks worth of protest signs.

Electric pickup is a terrible idea. I have enough trouble keeping my electric drills charged up. There are just some things that electric engines should stay away from. The diesel engine isnt dead. Its actually cleaner than a gasoline engine and more powerful and cleaner than a electric. (Batteries) diesel can go further I would rather fuel up than spend a day charging it. Its a cute idea about electric but we need to get serious and just keep diesel.

7 people apparently dont like this. I was lost myself, but yea you’ll never break me from diesel till the fuel is gone. It’s a cool idea but I’d never be able to use it. I live too far out of town, do way to much and sometimes 1500 miles in a day is just needed to clear the head. Cool idea but I have no use for it.

1500 miles in 24 hours is some serious tracks to “clear the head”.

You talk about how much electricity costs, yet you leave out the cost of fuel and maintenance of that diesel engine.

Guess what, moving to electricity the cost go up less that the savings in replacing the diesel.

PS. You charge up at night while you sleep.

Say what you want about electric pickup trucks, but the “Real Trucks Don’t Have Spark Plugs” bumper sticker is already available on Amazon!

Meaning, diesels.

We are decades away from this. Commercial users of light duty pickups won’t put up with hours to charge a vehicle. Farmers need a vehicle to last all day and access to charging stations don’t exist in remote areas. It’s. A pipe dream and may work for the urban dude who only has a truck for show. As for rural application, I don’t see it selling for many decades

Big enough battery plug it in at night hook it up to you’re windmill ha ha , I get ya though

Farmers will increasing look at solar/wind/battery systems and when it becomes cost effective for them it will become the norm. Once you have your own supply of free electricity, then EV trucks, tractors will be far more attractive than diesel.

Sorry to say you are both right and wrong at the same time, Diesel electric / like a modern day locomotive would be the better solution and definitely the most power option the 7.3 is just the gas alternative ( economically the cheaper solution )👍 The 7.3 will boost that sad gas power output compared to the big numbers from a diesel electric //Crack the perfect battery design and everything will be electric ,for sure 👌🏻✌🏻

This reminds me of an often-used strawman that I’ve heard before. Basically the argument is that nobody will buy an EV truck unless it can tow massive amounts. And yet when you look at the actual towing capacity of huge number of gas pickups, those gas pickups don’t meet that same standard either, and most trailers are rated for way less than the max tow capacity of the highest rated trucks.

And yet sales of those trucks with far less than the maximum towing capacity of the highest towing rated trim levels are actually huge.

So when truck folks talk about how EV trucks can’t to this or that, I always think to myself that neither can a huge percentage of gas trucks, and yet their sales are just fine. The reality is that most of the trailers folks actually own and tow don’t even require the highest tow-rated trucks. The low percent who do actually tow near factory tow ratings are the exception that proves the rule.

While that is in part true – people buy trucks for a lot of different reasons, towing is only one of them – people that buy HD trucks are far more likely to buy them for the towing capacity. In fact it’s one of the main things that makes an HD truck an HD truck.

This reminds me of the “electric cars a slow” meme from a decade ago, which was later buried by Tesla building cars that simply crush all be the most expensive exotic cars in the 1/4 mile and 0-60.

The reality is that we don’t even know yet what EV trucks will be capable of. So discounting them at this point is rather short-sighted, and has been a losing strategy for people who have greatly underestimated EV’s in the past.

The reality is that none of these folks predicted an electric EV SUV/Crossover would beat a sports car in the quarter mile, while towing a trailer carrying another one of the same sports car. So I don’t really expect them to correctly predict what EV pickups will be capable of in the future either.

Sadly, the biggest thing that will hold back BEV trucks is the “you can have my diesel truck, when you run over my cold dead body” mentality of diesel truck owners. They are a very loyal breed.

Getting the “Wal-Marters” to switch to electric is going to be difficult.

Second place in the 100% EV Premium line, sadly won’t happen for Rivian or probably any other line. Rivian‘s best bet, Ford buys them or they are simply a front company already.

Rivian’s mantra simply appears to hypothetically answer “if Tesla were to build a luxury truck 10 years ago…”

Converting true truck guys to luxury electric won’t happen for at least another decade unless it’s a $h#t kicker like Tesla renders appear to be and have necessary operation pieces in place (charging network, showrooms, service stations, etc)

With that, I truly hope I’m wrong. Rivian‘s best bet will be the SUV (and possibly the Rally Car) and ditch the truck altogether.

Or…maybe we just need fully FUEL CELL powered electric trucks instead?

With a captured fleet, fast charger time is time to fill HYDROGEN tanks on controlled fleet “Recharge” … Thanks about that one a bit!

I voted you up, but I have serious concerned about hydrogen vehicles, and it has nothing to do with what’s been discussed here (over and over) before. I followed a FCV down the highway in California recently, and it was *spewing* water. Not the little “water vapor” they tell us about, but a significant amount of water coming out of this vehicle. If more of these FCVs are on the roads, the roads will be permanently wet.

In a perfect world, EH on HDT sounds wonderful!! So does world peace and the American dream. The problem is with a heavy load you need a dynamically balanced tractor. Lightening the truck to assist the battery is not going to help stabilize an 18k load going down Jelico or the VA. And NC mountainous twists and turns. VW had a bug kit to pull campers, didnt make it a good idea.
Next is infrastructure, this has become the largest hurdle in the alternative fuels concept.
Last, a charged battery is defined as two dissimilar metals in the presence of an acid, whereas a discharged battery is two dissimilar metals in the presence of water. This creates issues when trying to maintain HV in artic conditions. What freezes doesn’t get recharged and damages cells, AGM have reduced amp etc. Pulling a fishing boat back from the lake, great idea, pulling heavyweight cross country, not sold.

Why not pair the new V6 3.0 Powerstroke with EV? Small engine, and relatively light weight. Could possibly push the F150 to 40 maybe even 50 mpg with a hybrid system. The same system could even work in Ford’s Expedition.

Will be interesting if the “Electriclisation” follows the same path as Dieselisation. It took about 30 years for industry to switch from steam power to diesel power. So if electric trucks are introduced in ~2020, maybe by 2050, they will be the norm.

“Electriclisation”? No need to make up a word when one exists (and has for a century or more).

It’s called electrification. :p

Erhmagherd imma merk up mer ern werds

How many Electricicals do you need to perform an Electriclisation?


Another Euro point of view

If super fast charging (for example at 350 kWh) is widely deployed then yes, those trucks should be rather popular with like 150-200 kWh batteries. If too slow charging then those large batteries will make it too inconvenient for electric pick up owners to charge. Within 5 years we should see quite many of them I expect.

Hate that channel. Reeks of seeking Alpha stench

Electric motors can’t compare to the nice a high torque engine, no I doubt that electric will ever replace them, at least fully.

The number one advantage of an electric powertrain is instant and incredible torque. There may be surely other reasons that an all-electric truck won’t compete or take hold right away, but it’s definitely not due to a lack of torque. Torque is the one reason that the technology should succeed, however, it’s safe to say it’s going to be awhile for a number of other reasons.

I don’t see this as an advantage Steven. The average person is not so hung up on ‘torque’ – seems to be a new found curiousity with you guys.

Most HD trucks with manual transmissions have a very low (that is, high – ratio) first gear that provides all the torque needed.

These 4 tire yuppie trucks can never compete with that.

Look at one of the videos of the Tesla Semi taking off quickly, even with a trailer. You can’t do that in a diesel truck… not for a lack of torque, but because of the diesel truck’s 10, 12, or 14-speed transmission.

Steven is right, though. The low-end torque of electric motors greatly bests even low-range gear diesels… and it keeps going because you don’t have to deal with the low RPM range of a diesel engine. That low-range gear will take you up to 5 MPH… then what?

Pretty sure acceleration is pretty far down the list of “important things for a fleet operator to think about when they buy an HGV/18 wheeler”…

Yup a lot of flapping of gums here by all the instant truck and tractor-trailer owners – which is just as well since some of them even have no intention of owning even a plain old ev. But they are experts in everything else.

how much torque do you need!!? Techrules have produced a car with 6 p400 electric motors weighing only 24kg each just over 310mm round and only 100mm deep with around 215hp and 220Nm of torque and each and up to 8000rpm!! They are coupled by a two speed box i think, giving just under 7800Nm of torque at the wheels!! It only has a 28kwh battery and a micro turbine generator for charging on the go, Which from 80ltr of diesel can get nearly 800 miles, thats just under 38 to the gallon!! Personally just one of yasas higher rated 750 motor would be enough for your needs!! Its nit much bigger in size, only much torque do you need!!? Techrules have produced a car with 6 p400 electric motors weighing only 24kg each just over 310mm round and only 100mm deep with around 215hp and 220Nm of torque and each and up to 8000rpm!! They are coupled by a two speed box i think, giving just under 7800Nm of torque at the wheels!! It only has a 28kwh battery and a micro turbine generator for charging on the go, Which from 80ltr of diesel can get nearly 800 miles,… Read more »

My guess is that Ford and GM are now realizing that they have guessed very wrong about the speed and thoroughness of the electric vehicle onslaught. The German car makers are now grappling with the same issue. Hybrids and plugin hybrids will find their last market among truck owners [vroom factor] but the added torque, regen, quiet, and fuel and maintenance savings of going all electric will take most of the market away from diesel and gasoline engines.
Another small point. You both talked about the weight of batteries as such a detriment.. And it is in the gas/diesel world, And may be an issue for carrying capacity. But the added torque of electric will enable better towing, and regen will make battery weight much less of an efficiency issue.
So, I say you are both WRONG! Electric will take over the truck market much quicker and for reasons neither of you have talked about. Enjoy.

Sure is a lot of gabbing about how electrics are going to take over the market. I just wish there was one reasonably priced PHEV or BEV vehicle I could buy now. Since I’m still waiting its a wee bit premature to call for the death of absolutely everything else.

I want a heavy duty PHEV with one of those new hyper-efficient opposed-piston diesels as a generator. 🙂

Look no further than the 2020 Jeep Wrangler.

Tesla is right to attempt a speedy transition to clean power but most of mankind is far too stupid or restrained or both to actually help. We picked a terrible time to up size trucks and SUVs, completely wiping out effeciency gains elsewhere. I fear there is little hope of reversing climate change effects.
“Part of the problem or part of the solution “.
“Do you really need it?”
I know, deaf ears…..