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Electric car stocks continue to show positive numbers with Tesla stock (TSLA) and the Nio stock price looking good although the same can’t be said for Nikola’s stock. Either way, it is showing growing optimism for the expanding electric vehicle industry.
Despite some recent recalls with the Tesla Model Y, which Elon Musk will no doubt get resolved, there is a lot of support for the new Tesla truck that will be coming out soon. The Tesla Semi already has a ton of pre-orders from large companies such as Walmart.
In the past we reported on Bill Gates’s doubts on semi-trucks being able to go electric due to their weight and distances travelled. However, Clean Energy Wire (CLEW) and Auke Hoekstra, who is a green vehicle expert and researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology, revealed the true feasibility of all-electric trucks taking over in heavy duty road freight. This is good news for Tesla and the Tesla Semi truck.
Regarding the sceptical thoughts on batteries being able to power large trucks, Hoekstra says that the cynics are thinking of the worst case scenario, like a diesel truck doing multiple trips over long distances. However, research in the Netherlands shows that 80% of trucks, including the big rigs and semis travel a maximum of 750 kilometres daily and most actually cover shorter distances. And generally, safe driving standards won’t allow a driver to do more than 750 kms in one day in any case.
Most trucks return to base at the end of the day or shift, which is the ideal time to charge up. Not all truckers are out on the road for days and weeks on end. So, you would simply need the charging infrastructure that’s used for an electric car as well as an electric truck.
If we look at weight, firstly, innovations in batteries mean they becoming lighter and secondly, replacing a traditional drive train with an electric one also reduces the overall weight of the truck, in fact, it can result in a decrease of nearly three tonnes in weight, which is exactly what Tesla has done with its Semi model. Trucks don’t need a massive range, just simple and cheap charging solutions.
Hoekstra also discussed the push for synthetic fuels, or e-fuels, as a low-emission option but he said that it’s still not the way forward:
"E-fuel trucks have one single big advantage only: they run on very energetically condensed fuel. But in terms of efficiency, in terms of maintenance, and in terms of price per km, they are highly inferior to battery-electric trucks."
While Hoekstra is apprehensive to drop Tesla’s name every time to avoid seeming like he’s marketing the brand, he emphasized the critical changes that came about when the Tesla Roadster was released. It changed the whole perception of electric vehicles because people thought EVs could only do short distances around town but the Roadster appeared and it proved that anything was possible.
Hoekstra feels the same will happen when the Tesla Semi truck hits the roads. It will change perceptions about electric trucks. And then suddenly you will see new electric models being unveiled by car auto manufacturers within the next few years. He went on to explain that building an electric car is actually more difficult than designing an electric truck. This is because it’s harder to produce luxury cars on a large scale, at cut-throat prices. Trucks are produced on a smaller scale and the design aspects for the interior and exterior are less critical.
He is a senior advisor for smart mobility at the Eindhoven University of Technology and initiator and head of SparkCity: an open source, GIS- and agent-based model of the transition to 100% renewable energy with a focus on electric vehicles. His areas of expertise include: Agent-based modelling of the energy transition Electric Vehicles (from bicycles to long haul trucks), the impact of self-driving, car-sharing, and smart charging policy evaluation.