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Next Phase for Vehicle Electrification: Heavy-Duty Trucks and Construction Machinery
2020-07-31   |  Editor:et_editor  |  89 Numbers

Electric vehicles will gradually become the mainstream in the passenger car sector, which has become the mutual consensus of various major automotive manufacturers, though a comprehensive carbon reduction requires not only the efforts from the field of passenger car, but also a further implementation in all vehicle types, even machinery. As the pioneer in carbon reduction for a long time, California will now also become the driving force for the electrification in heavy-duty vehicles and machinery.

California became the vanguard in global electric vehicles under policy incentives, where the sales of Tesla Model 3 became the most popular vehicle model by having reached to 18,800 units during 1Q20, which surpassed the 17,800 units of Camry and 15,600 units of Corolla from Toyota, as well as the 180K units of Civic and 126K units of Accord from Honda.

As battery technology becomes more mature and affordable, the pace of electrification has been expanded to large vehicles and heavy-duty machinery, where electrified products of these two fields have released in increasing numbers. Having noticed this specific trend, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) continues on its leading status by reaching to a consensus in June 2020 that all trucks sold in California starting 2045 must be of zero carbon emission, and that all automotive manufacturers are required to transition into the specific vehicle type beginning from 2024.

The most crucial element in achieving this particular target is that the market has to release enough truck models in order to ignite purchase willingness for the consumers, and the prices will have to be suppressed through competition. Regarding this aspect, the actions from various automotive manufacturers have conformed to the direction planned by California, where 2023 will see a total of 19 battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty trucks being released in North America, which is more than the 5 vehicle types and 8 models this year.

California’s implementation of such regulation contains concrete reasons, apart from serving the usual role of a green vanguard. As one of the states in the US with the most severe air pollution, California had been known for the smog in the Los Angeles area, and despite the significant improvement as of now, Los Angeles and the surrounding districts remain under the effect of air pollution, with the largest source of pollution coming from trucks. According to the statistics of the CARB, despite occupying merely 2 million units among the 30 million registered vehicles in the specific state, trucks in California account for 80% of the diesel smoke pollution. Thus, an elimination of diesel trucks is the first step in improving the air quality, which explains the inevitable direction in electrification for trucks and hydrogen fuel cells.

US power companies have already discovered the enormous business opportunities introduced by the comprehensive electrification for trucks, where various power companies from California, Oregon, and Washington have formed the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative that urges establishment of one rapid charging station per 50 miles on the north-south interstate highway Interstate 5 for electrified cargo trucks and heavy-duty trucks. The project envisages 27 units of charging stations for medium-sized vehicles by 2025, where 14 of the 27 units will be transformed to provide charging for heavy-duty vehicles by 2030, and another 41 units of charging stations will be constructed at the spur routes of Interstate 5.

One of the primary hindrances in the development of electric vehicles is the insufficient charging infrastructures, which are concatenated with the progress of electrification for trucks, and power companies are able to comparatively seize profound degree of business opportunities in energy from traditional gas stations and the gasoline industry. Local Californian power companies are naturally interested in this approach, where power company Southern California Edison continues to commence the Charge Ready Transport Program equaling US$356 million in total budget amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The program includes the construction of a basic power network within 5 years that is able to provide power to 870 units of commercial charging stations, which charge 8,490 units of medium to large vehicles. The charging stations that will be completed first include 3 units of school bus charging stations and 2 units of commuting bus charging stations, which are able to provide power to 80 school and commuting buses after completion.

Europe Began Implementing Electrification for Construction Machinery

Implementing electrification for trucks in order to reduce air pollution is not just the vision of California, as 15 states along with Washington D.C. have signed a MOU on July 14th 2020 to co-implement electrification for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, including large trucks, vans, cargo trucks, transport wagons, school buses, commuting buses, and long-distance trucks. The objective for the MOU is to achieve zero carbon emission for 30% of the new vehicles among medium and large vehicles by 2030, and achieve 100% carbon emission by 2050.

States that signed the MOU include California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington D.C., and Washington. As commented by various states, trucks and buses occupy merely 4% of all vehicles in the US, yet produce nearly 25% of carbon emission, with carbon emission from trucks being the main source in the escalation of carbon emission, where numerous toxic air pollutants are also produced. On the other hand, regardless of public interests, the technology progression for electric vehicles is anticipated to lead to a similar price level between large & heavy-duty electric vehicles and traditional diesel vehicles.

In addition, as a carbon reduction activist, Europe has begun implementing electrification for construction machinery, where Oslo, capital of Norway, had launched the first construction site in the world with zero carbon emission back in 2019, and the city also regulates that all sites are required to use machinery with zero carbon emission by 2025. Electric excavators, loading wagons, and dumpers are available in the European market by manufacturers including Hitachi and Komatsu from Japan, as well as Volvo from Europe.

Both California and Europe have facilitated progressively increasing market visibility for electrified medium & large vehicles and machinery, though the partial static, such as the different attitude towards carbon reduction from various states of the US, has restricted the progress in truck electrification. Europe also plans to launch hydrogen energy policies, where the power of carbon reduction will be divided into two directions of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which creates half the result with twice the effort.

 (Cover photo source: pixabay)