Many countries have been working to electrify all vehicles, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Most countries are starting with passenger vehicles because that’s easiest. However, in the United States, seventeen states are aiming at electrifying commercial trucks by 2030. The District of Columbia and the Canadian province of Québec are also joining this initiative. The goal is to make 100% of all new truck and bus sales electric by 2050.
The trucks affected by this initiative include long-haul commercial trucks, school buses, transit buses, vans, and even passenger pickup trucks. This is good news and bad news for the trucking industry.
Electric trucks are expensive – more than twice the cost of a new non-electric truck – and the cost of owning a fleet of commercial trucks will increase exponentially under this electrification plan. The average electric truck costs between $150,000-$180,000, compared to $70,000-$150,000 for new non-electric trucks. Used non-electric trucks can be purchased for around $20,000-$40,000.
Trucking companies already have massive operating expenses, and struggle to find drivers even, when pay rates are high. Add to that, the fact that diesel fuel prices have been skyrocketing and trucking companies aren’t exactly in a financial position to buy electric trucks.
Trucking companies can still get non-electric used trucks
Since the goal is to electrify the market for new trucks by 2050, trucking companies still have time to acquire non-electric used trucks. They’re still extremely affordable, and so are the parts. For instance, you can import both used trucks and new truck parts from Canada and get a really great deal. The prices are already reasonable, but the exchange rate from CAD to USD makes it even more affordable.
For trucking companies who want to avoid the added expense of electrification, this is the way to go. However, once more people learn about the plan to electrify the industry, the prices of used non-electric trucks will likely rise due to demand. Trucking companies will need to stay on top of the market to acquire the trucks they need before they can’t get them anymore.
Non-electric trucks will eventually be phased out
Even though this electrification plan is likely to be years or decades behind schedule, there will come a time when non-electric trucks will be phased out entirely. One day in the future, only electric trucks will be legal to operate.
However, this is a future most trucking companies in operation today won’t likely have to face. It could take several decades just to make the switch to manufacturing electric trucks and it would be many years before non-electric trucks would disappear completely.
Are green cars fantasy or reality?
Although it seems like a great move to turn the transportation industry green through electrifying all vehicles, the biggest question is whether or not this goal is fantasy or reality. Affordability aside, can the world run on electric vehicles, or is that just a dream?
Right now, most people charge their electric passenger vehicles at home, which means they’re using non-green energy to power their “green” cars. If you go to certain supermarkets, you’ll find free electric charging stations for cars, but these stations provide electricity from the same source that powers the supermarket – coal plants.
If the goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions, then perhaps charging electric trucks with coal power will produce less emissions than if the trucks ran on gas. It’s hard to find a definitive study on this to know for sure. However, this means electric trucks aren’t fully green and won’t be until the energy that charges them is fully green. This is where things get a bit complicated.
You might remember hearing about frozen windmills being responsible for the Texas power outages in 2021. A photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine circulated the internet and people were appalled because it took dirty fuel to fix a clean fuel source. The photo was actually from Sweden. However, it paints a grim reality: if we move to an all-electric world, what happens when our green power sources fail?
Truly green or not, electric trucks are here
Whether or not electric trucks are truly green, they’re already being launched into the market. For example, Freightliner is already testing out a fleet of 40 trucks and other companies, like Volvo, Tesla, and Scania are doing the same. It’s only a matter of time before other manufacturers start producing all-electric semi-trucks, too.
The green movement doesn’t seem to mind not knowing all the answers to predictable problems, and perhaps we’ll just have to wait until we get there to figure out solutions.