For Electric Trucks, 500-Mile Range Seems To Be The Sweet Spot


We like big trucks and we cannot lie.

Dimensions…hmm. Probably quite a bit more than Sir Mix-A-Lot says. Ain’t no 24 here. Unless we’re talking feet of cargo-hauling capability.

Those small, consumer-grade electric pickup trucks need not apply to this discussion.

We’ve got nothing against the like of the Rivian R1T electric truck or the upcoming Tesla truck, but that’s just not the focus of this discussion.

Both Tesla Semi trucks from the reveal event

Tesla Semi

Electric semis and other big trucks

Instead, we’re talking electric semis and such.

In a recent research study, it was found that the “Electric truck market is expected to attain a market size of 1,508.1 thousand units by 2025.” Yes, that’s an odd unit of numerical measure there. But we won’t dwell on that.

Let’s move on to electric range. This is where the figures are more meaningful to us. The report states:

Based on range, the electric truck market is categorized into 0-150 miles, 151-250 miles, 251-500 miles, and above 500 miles. The market for electric trucks with a range of above 500 miles is projected to register the highest growth, with a growth rate of over 30% in terms of volume, during the forecast period, owing to the growing demand for long-haul trucks.

This implies that range is a big factor, with the highest growth predicted in the highest range segment of above 500 miles. That range is not easy to achieve in a big, heavy-hauler though without lots of battery. For example, Nikola Motors says that the 1 MWh battery pack in is expected to give Nikola Two a range of 400 miles (640 km) or 300 miles (480 km) in cold weather. Nikola adds that such a big battery will weigh half of the truck’s weight.

So, you get the idea here. To get lots of range in a semi it takes loads of batteries and adds a ton of weight. Or perhaps a new, super advanced battery that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

More info in the press blast below:

Global Electric Truck Market, 2019-2025 – Growing Demand for Longer Electric Truck Range

The “Electric Truck Market by Propulsion, by Vehicle Type, by Range, by Application, by Geography – Global Market Size, Share, Development, Growth, and Demand Forecast, 2013-2025” report has been added to’s offering.

Electric truck market is expected to attain a market size of 1,508.1 thousand units by 2025, low maintenance cost incurred in electric trucks, supportive government regulations including additional incentives along with declining price of batteries are the major factors driving the growth of the market.

Further, the battery manufacturing industry is growing much faster than the battery demand, which has led to economies of scale benefiting the advancement of the industry. Moreover, technological advancements achieved in battery development over the past decade helped to bring down the price of battery packs. This leads to the growth of the electric truck market.

Based on range, the electric truck market is categorized into 0-150 miles, 151-250 miles, 251-500 miles, and above 500 miles. The market for electric trucks with a range of above 500 miles is projected to register the highest growth, with a growth rate of over 30% in terms of volume, during the forecast period, owing to the growing demand for long-haul trucks. Additionally, to accommodate this demand, the manufacturers are investing toward the development of electric trucks, especially the ones incorporated with the hydrogen fuel-cell technology, worldwide.

Truck Categories

On the basis of vehicle type, electric truck market is categorised into light-duty truck (LDT), medium-duty truck (MDT), and heavy-duty truck (HDT). Sales volume for the trucks falling under the HDT category is expected to register the fastest growth, both in terms of volume and value, as compared to other categories, in the upcoming years. In developed economies, including the U.S. and European nations, the market for electric trucks in the HDT category is growing at a significant pace, owning to the increasing demand for long-haul HDTs running on alternate fuels by fleet owners. Additionally, the trucking companies continue to add HDTs to level with the rising freight demand and avail maximam gains under the government financial incentive schemes.

Geographically, the APAC electric truck market registered the largest share during the historical period, accounting for a sales volume of over 80% in 2017. Country wise, China continued to remain the market leader for these trucks in the world, owning to the favorable government subsidies, national alternative-fuel-vehicle replacement sales targets, and municipal air quality targets.

In other regions, the industry is still in its budding phase and largely depending on the government policies. Availability of less number of manufacturers, high upfront cost, and underdeveloped value chain have limited the growth of the electric truck market. However, the increasing investment by the manufacturers in these regions for the development of electric trucks is expected to boost the market growth during the forecast period.

The global electric truck market is dominated mostly by the Chinese players, owing to the rapid industrialization, urbanization, and economy growth coupled with government support for the adoption of eco-friendly vehicles. Dongfeng Motor Corporation is one of the leading players in the market. The company has wide product portfolio and has strong position in Chinese electric truck industry. Whereas, BYD Company Limited. is the second largest manufacturer of electric trucks in the industry.

The other key players in the market include Hino Motors Limited., Daimler AG, Volvo Group, Iveco S.p.A., Isuzu Motors Limited, Nikola Motor Company, Workhorse Group Incorporated, Cummins Inc., and E-Force One AG.

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58 Comments on "For Electric Trucks, 500-Mile Range Seems To Be The Sweet Spot"

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(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Wouldn’t it be cool if these had small 50kW DCFC’s on them to help a stranded EV’er if needed?

Just a mindless thought…… 😛

A beautiful thought for a world in which EVs are much more commonplace.

No truck driver will ever stop for someone that ran out of juice.

True, but tow trucks on the other hand would be a great candidate.

Hey don’t say that, I changed a tire for a lady on the side of the road awhile ago, out in the middle of nowhere. So never say never lol

would you have helped a gentleman 🙂

You do realize, I hope, that you just did the equivalent of someone saying EVs are glorified golf carts that can’t travel in snow or at highway speeds.

“No truck driver will ever stop for someone that ran out of juice.”

So truck driver pulls into a stop and lo and behold is a young vixen in desperate need of a charge. Are you saying he wouldn’t gladly volunteer to save the day by injecting some of his juice?

Yes that would be mindless and very costly both in fuel and FC stack costs. It would cost much less with a ICE run at best speed.
But the solution is saddle tank batteries that can be charged cheaply while doing grid services and swapped in 2-4 minutes.
We use to do similar during EV racing events along with dump charging, now known as SC, back in the 80s. They could be swapped in 40 seconds.
That it makes new EVs cost less than new ICEs and make existing semis easy, low cost to convert make 2-3 standard size ones the ticket.
If semi manufacturers were smart, they would start it up by making the standards and asking for bids to supply packs, stations.

1½ million electric truck sales per year in 6 years? I’d be very happy if that would be the case.

Aaaand this is where fool cells actually make sense for once. 1 MWh of batteries must weigh just an obscene amount. I mean, I know I’m inviting the trolls here, but seriously, if you want to transport that much energy it makes a lot of sense to separate your energy storage from your energy generation.

I hate fool cells but I think you have a point. Maybe. There are still a lot of problems with hydrogen.

1 MWh of battery cells like used in a Tesla would weigh 11% of the whole truck. In a Model S 100D 100kWh of the same cells would be 18% of the whole car. Trucks make more sense to run on batteries, not less.

Yep.. how much does a engine and transmission weigh in a semi? Not to mention 300 gal of diesel fuel… That is about 2 tons right there.

The entire drivetrain with full fuel tanks can be over 7000 pounds for a 15 liter diesel, including radiator blah blah blah.

Not saying that weight of the batteries isn’t an issue, but about 90% of semi trailer loads are limited by space, not weight. There are likely a lot of trucking companies for which the weight wouldn’t be an issue at all.

And of course, the size and weight of EV batteries will continue to fall year after year, as they have been.

Get used to seeing these numbers, the electric ferries that are being built are multiple MWh batteries, I don’t find it obscene I find it fantastic, the more demand, the better and cheaper the batteries will get.

Davek – quote: “Aaaand this is where fool cells actually make sense for once. 1 MWh of batteries must weigh just an obscene amount.” ————— It’s not difficult to work out ball park figures. At present 4kg/kWh is a good guide in practice, and the hope is that may be halved within a reasonable time frame. But keeping to 4kg/kWh, that would give 4,000kg for cell weight alone for a 1 MWh battery, to which would have to be added the weight of the pack. But for cell weight, 4,000kg is 8,800lbs – so Tim is exactly right when he says about 11% of total weight. OK, heavy, but not really “obscenely heavy”? And remember versus diesel, you’re saving a lot of weight in other areas – it’s far from an extra 8,800lbs.. Versus hydrogen fuel cell, then also remember Nikola are talking of a pretty big battery anyway (to cope with acceleration, climbing steep gradients and regen braking) – about 320kWH. That’s going to be pretty heavy, and then there’s the weight of pressure vessel and the fuel cells themselves, so i doubt the fuel cell truck is going to have quite the weight advantage some are hoping for.… Read more »

Well said. A fuel cell truck may have 6% higher legal payload than a 1MWh electric truck, which could sway enough buyers to help Nikola get a niche, but it won’t matter beyond that.

In addition to everything you said, Nikola themselves said recently that a long-range BEV semi will be about 3,000 – 5,000 lbs heavier than the hydrogen one… Not that much of a difference really, on a 80,000 lbs truck.

“Aaaand this is where fool cells actually make sense for once.” Maybe today, but fuel cells can’t get much better as hydrogen cannot be improved, only the fuel cell which is currently about 70% so in 5 years maybe 80% or even 90%. Batteries on the other hand have theoretical limits about 100x better than now and achieving 2x to 10x better energy density and cost in the near future is reasonable to expect.

Where did you get 100x theoretical limit? Even the theoretical (not actually achievable) limit for the highest-density possible chemistry is close to that AFAIK.

Can’t remember, can’t quote it, but I did read it somewhere. I think I am being conservative and the theoretical limit is much higher.

You clearly underestimate the weight of high power fuel cells and large hydrogen storage tanks. There is a reason fool cell cars are heavier than their electric counterparts.

10 hours at a stretch?
This reminds me of my first years with a low range Leaf.
The car was fine, I needed to stop every hour anyway, the charging infrastructure was terrible.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I know right? 10hrs?
I am pretty sure there are rules/regulations that limit’s that.

U.S. regulations allow truckers to drive a 14 hour shift, with (if I recall correctly) a 30 minute lunch break. A single driver can’t legally drive that many hours two days in a row, but the truck can.

EU regulations call for shorter shifts.

The current USA rules are up to 14 hour day, can drive up to11 hrs of that 14 but need to take 30 minute break before end of 8 hours are used.
( that’s 8 hours of the 14 not of the 11)
after 14 hours 10 hour break required, unless using split break rule.

Up to 70 hours on duty over 8 days, can reset 70 with 34 hour restart but only every 168 hours. Otherwise you just pick up the time you used every 8 th day ago.

Those are maximums, if you didn’t have a 14 hour day , then any off duty for 10 hour segment just allows you to start your 14 clock again.

So the most a driver could drive in a 24 hr period is about 12 hours a day, used to be 13 before the 30 minute rule went into effect.

If I’m just running down the interstate, 680 miles /day not unusual. But that’s not average day over a weeks time.

Sounds like you need specialized software and a powerful computer to keep track of all that, lol.

Don’t get a Trucker started on that electronic logging system…
The one thing they all agree on, is that they hate it.

I guess my point was that there should be plenty of human caused opportunity to charge a smaller battery truck over the course of a working day.
With autonomous trucks, all bet’s are off.

I cannot take seriously any study which describes a sham company like Nikola as one of the “key players in the market”.

This appears to be just another heavily biased, poorly researched “study” which is weighted to favor one or more of the marketing firm’s clients or prospective clients.

Not sure about “sham”. Nikola announced today that they will reveal 2 prototypes ( one of each electric version) in April. We’ll see.

Several independent calculations (including my own) have shown that Tesla’s claims are plausible with their current battery technology. Also, Tesla has a track record of delivering on specs that “experts” claimed were impossible.

Whether Nikola is a “sham company” or not, the fact that the study lists them as a major player, but not Tesla, is indeed rather absurd.

That would mean 500kWh of battery!

I’m going to venture a guess that the Tesla Semi will go 600 miles with significantly less than 1000 kWh in the battery pack. 1000 kWh is five times what they plan to put in the next-gen Roadster which they purport will go 600 miles. Tesla will probably put in a 500 kWh pack in the Semi.

There is no doubt the Tesla Semi will have a much larger battery than 500 kWh. Various estimates range from about 800 kWh to about 1000 kWh.

As for Nikola’s claims being conservative, that’s unsurprising, considering they want to play them down compared to their beloved hydrogen trucks… Tesla claims less than 2 kWh per mile — and that’s entirely plausible according to independent calculations; as well as the fact that even Daimler claims ~2kWh per mile, in spite of not having the aerodynamic design of the Tesla Semi.

Engine, gearbox, transmission axels must be 30% of a semi tractor, maybe more.
1000kWh battery pack with luck will weight 6000kg, but replacing the ICE by an electric motor will easily save 2000kg.
Remove Eddy current brakes, and other components to hold the engine, 500kg from the fuel tank and the EV semi will still be a lot heavier but not that crazy heavier, maybe 3000kg.

One of the problem for EVs is the upfront costs, but when many miles are done, those costs become less important.

(My math requires revision)

~2,000 kg for the Tesla Semi by my estimates, based on numbers I have seen for combustion semi power train components, along with extrapolations from Tesla’s current battery technology.

That truck needs big red LED that scans from side to side…….

Dynamic charging is by far the most intelligent approach to long range BEV Semi trucking. We’ll never do it, of course.

That’s debatable. While the costs of building such an infrastructure could pay off with high utilisation at current battery costs, by the time such an infrastructure could realistically be completed, batteries should be so cheap that it almost certainly won’t be worthwhile.

Instead of all this fanciful stuff about trucks that may appear or not – how about taking a picture of a Tesla-Semi-prototype charging at a group of Superchargers. Then at least we could see some of the charging cords. I haven’t see ANYTHING yet other than supposedly a charge port – unlabeld as to precisely what I’m looking at, or even how many supercharger bays the truck actually utilizes.

That very basic information would be at least a beginning.

To Bill Howland – charging a Semi with multiple SuperChargers may be a pragmatic fix at the moment to enable real world long distance testing and to enable them to actually drive it to visit potential clients, but no one is suggesting that is viable once a fleet starts hauling loads for real.

So whilst it may prove the Semi is capable of relatively fast charging, what would detail about this prove? I suspect Tesla don’t want to trumpet it too loudly for fear the gossip mill starts spreading it will be the normal means of charging in the future.

There are no pictures of the charging setup, because the Tesla engineers — while forthcoming in general — are explicitly asking onlookers not to take pictures of that.

Well it doesn’t take much imagination to see what they would have to have… The thing only has to emulate several other Teslas – where here the 8 port access point (the only thing we’ve seen on the truck to date ) – can probably emulate 4 tesla vehicles.

What gets me is one of the Mommy’s Basement types here, who knows ‘So much more about engineering than me’, said it was impossible for a Tesla Semi to charge up using supercharger facilities.

From all the “NEWS” it seems that to date the ONLY place Semi’s have recharged is at such facilities. So much for the self-appointed great brains.

For reference, currently the market looks like this for Class 7 and above trucks: (this is non-electric)

Under 50 miles – 40.7%
51–100 miles – 13.5%
101–200 miles – 6.7%
201–500 miles – 7.6%
501 miles or more – 10.4%
Off-road – 3.2%
Vehicle not in use – 3.2%
Not reported – 14.7%


Nice, so a, relatively, small battery truck could indeed be quite useful.

That should read:

“There are many applications MORE SUITED FOR EVs on shorter distances (unless / UNTIL solid-state batteries are ready in the future).

Charging infrastructure will definitely be a key issue. In Europe there are plenty of statutory mandated breaks for charging but to actually charge a hundred trucks simultaneously at a truck stop will be a huge logistical headache.

100 trucks charging at 150 kW (that will give up to 1.2 MWh during a 8 hour break) will require a rather substantial 15 MW site supply while limiting the site to service 300 trucks per day. You’d need a large enough lot to allow for this.

Another_LEAF_driver – All you say is quite true, but what’s the alternative? One is simply stay with diesel, hydrogen would need even more electricity if electrolysis used, or a very large number of (not very green) truck deliveries. Space needn’t be a problem if charging was done overnight where the trucks would usually be parked?

The supply issues are far from trivial, but just think back even a hundred years. Electricity consumption only a fraction of today, nowhere near the road network, before even thinking about other networks which have developed such as communications and broadcasting for just two.

ALD: Doesn’t really matter to the trucking company – Musk said that the juice will be $0.07 / kwh (there are 3 different ways to calculate that figure), but that would be contractually ironed-out in the Purchase Agreement.

I’m sure the Tesla Semi will sell quite well as Musk is apparently taking care of all the details for the purchaser – and the Green Eye Shade accountants will MAKE SURE they hold TESLA to any agreements they make.

As far as the 15,000 kw you’ve estimated this will require – I’d just say that is a small detail. Have you ever been to a MALL?

Sorry, changed my handle here as forgot what I was called.

Personally I think the BEV trucks with 500 mile range will suite Europe even better than US where both speeds and therefore distance driven is higher than here. And yes, compared to a mall the 15 MW grid is small enough alright but the cost of installation of 100 chargers and the supply itself won’t be cheap. I guess it’s all about scale of things, i.e. the cost per charger and connection cost per charger will continue to go down the more we install.

Truck parks tend to be quite congested in artery routes of Central Europe and providing enough charging locations will be hard. Quite often you see trucks stopped on the side of the motorway near the exit ramp to a service area due to insufficient spaces available. Currently time parked anywhere is good for a rest period (I think) but when BEVs become the norm every parking spot should also have a dedicated 150 kW charger. If you can’t juice up when you rest you will loose valuable hours of driving time.

Weight should be about 2 tonnes more than a diesel semi — not a big deal on a 36 tonnes truck. With 400 miles charging in 30 minutes, range should be hardly if ever a limitation in practical use. And cost should be realistic too, with Tesla’s projected battery costs for 2020.

Less than the maximum distance a truck driver can drive before he needs a break is the sweet spot. For sure it is not 500miles with cargo. Thats a waste of weight, energy and resources. And as nobody would pay 50k additiinal for a few tonnes more weight just to save a few minutes of cheap truck driver worktime.

“500 miles the sweet spot”… says who?

Last time I checked, everyone said 250 miles was the sweet spot for EV road cars until Tesla upped their game to over 300 miles.

500 miles is probably what is most feasible today, with current tech. Even Tesla says the production version of the Semi will be closer to 600 miles than originally stated at the reveal.

So, again, how is 500 miles the “sweet spot”?