Study proves battery-electric trucks' advantages over diesel, but tech expert is unimpressed.
A recent study by Transport and Environment compares overall energy consumption of all-electric haulers like the Tesla Semi versus today's diesel trucks. In addition, it works to compare the two powertrains in terms of their environmental impacts. All things considered, the study favors the all-electric option for many reasons. However, Chair of Automotive Engineering at the Technical University of Munich Markus Lienkamp strongly disagrees.
The study used two different diesel trucks. One returns about 7 mpg while the other gets about 11. Teslarati writes:
The results of Transport and Environment’s study found that diesel trucks consume between 2.2-3.3 kilowatt-hours per kilometer, far above the consumption of an average electric truck, which requires 1.44 kWh per km. Electric vehicles that are designed from the ground up for maximum efficiency such as the Tesla Semi require just 1.15 kWh per km. The study’s authors concluded that overall, using all-electric trucks reduces energy consumption by a factor of 1.5-2.9.
Moreover, the study proves that battery-electric trucks are more efficient. The diesels range from 20 to 45 percent efficient for long trips and only 10 percent efficient in the city. Electric haulers like the Tesla Semi come in at 90 percent efficient on the long haul and 75 percent efficient in the city. This massive efficiency advantage in urban environments is positive news for Tesla since these short haul trips are what it's semi is primarily designed for. More importantly, it's extremely positive for the environment.
Finally, the study asserts that battery-electric trucks cost less to repair than diesel trucks, and maintenance is cheaper as well. Electric vehicles simply have less moving parts, very little fluid to change out, and regenerative braking, which increases the longevity of the braking system.
After coming across this data, Markus Lienkamp argues that the efficiency situation goes back to the energy's source. He shared (via Teslarati):
The efficiency of the electricity mix used for the truck battery is important. If the energy comes from a gas-fired power plant, for example, the overall efficiency quickly drops back to 40%. If, on the other hand, 80% to 90% of the electricity comes from renewable sources, as planned in the EU for 2040, long-distance trucks would be attractive from an ecological point of view.
Lienkamp goes on to say that for longer distances (500km or more), battery-electric haulers will not be economically viable until 2030. He believes that it just costs too much money to attempt to reduce CO2 levels. Lienkamp said:
The battery for a Tesla Semi must have a capacity of about 1000 kWh, per 100 kilometers about 130 kilowatt-hours. This is technically not easily feasible and it’s also pointless both economically and ecologically.