E-trucks on the verge of a breakthrough

In 2025 electric trucks could attain cost parity with diesel models in almost all areas. These are the findings of a current study conducted by McKinsey. But how far are the manufacturers really? Tesla recently presented an electric truck that sets new standards.

When Deutsche Post wanted to expand its fleet with electric trucks four years ago (2013), the company could not find any suitable vehicles. As a result, it started the development and production of suitable models itself – in this case the StreetScooter. With the StreetScooter Deutsche Post marked the emergence of a vehicle division in electric mobility, which, according to a current McKinsey study, will record significant growth in the coming years: For instance, electric transporters – from light commercial vehicles through to articulated lorries – will, according to the study, have around 15 percent of the market share in 2030, whereby the percentage of light electric trucks used in urban areas could even be up to 35 percent in China and Europe.


The announcements of several manufacturers point in this direction: Daimler recently started production of the Fuso eCanter electric truck. The eCanter has a range of around 100 kilometres and based on customer trials in Stuttgart is suitable for daily use by municipal authorities for urban maintenance and for door-to-door deliveries by parcel delivery companies. Daimler is planning further battery modules for the future that each customer can adapt to their individual payload-range needs.

With its group subsidiary Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), Daimler also launched the heavy-duty, fully electric truck E-FUSO Vision One. The aim is to bring the electric truck to series production by 2021. The concept presented can transport a payload of 11 tonnes up to 350 kilometres with only one battery charge. The market launch in Europe and Japan should take place within the next four years.


The Wolfsburg-based manufacturer is undertaking serious efforts to keep up with the current trends. The car manufacturer is developing an electric truck for shorter distances in collaboration with the US manufacturer Navistar. The medium-duty truck should be on the market at the end of 2019 or the start of 2020 in the USA and Canada.


The Volkswagen subsidiary MAN is sending the electric truck into the test phase at the end of 2017. The electric truck is designed for urban deliveries.


The Chinese car manufacturer Build Your Dreams (BYD) builds the electric trucks T3, T5, T7 and T9. The T3, T5 and T7 are smaller trucks for urban goods transport. At a speed of under 50 km/h the range of these models is roughly 400 kilometres. The T9 is the world's first electric tractor unit – this should manage more than 160 kilometres with one charge. 


The electric car pioneer Tesla also recently presented a new semi-trailer truck – the Semi E-Truck, a truck with a range of up to 800 kilometres, which can be charged with a mega charger in only 30 minutes for 630 kilometres. The model is to be sold from 2019 and already has several pre-orders. 

Thor Trucks

The US start-up Thor Trucks also presented an electric truck with the ET1, which is due out in 2019. The heavy-duty vehicle is expected to cost between 150,000 and 250,000 US dollars and have a range of around 480 kilometres.

Tesla and Thor indicate that the initially higher costs for the purchase of the electric trucks are accompanied by 70 percent lower fuel costs and 60 percent lower maintenance costs. In addition, both providers promise a reduction in emissions to near zero.

Electric trucks are becoming more affordable and attractive

Besides the growing number of electric trucks, the authors of the McKinsey study see three further main drivers for the breakthrough in this division: For 2025 they are expecting cost parity of electric trucks with diesel trucks, which could lead to a significant increase in their attractiveness. The authors identify the progressive electrification standard as a second factor; the foundation of which is laid with the development and production of new models as well as the development of the charging infrastructure. And thirdly, the study revealed that local and national regulations such as restricted access to city centres and stricter emission requirements also favour the increasing use of electric trucks.

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