The trigger? Together with Flanders Make, the e-TROVA team recently converted a 7-year-old diesel truck to an electrically powered version. The next step: a multi-brand solution, converting trucks of different brands within 48 hours. In this blog post, we provide a brief summary of their talk, heard in the podcast episode: "Electrification conquers heavy transport (link to Spotify)".
Until recently, electric passenger cars dominated the market, but thanks to rapid advances in battery technology, major European truck manufacturers are now introducing different models for both local and international transport. In addition, initiatives to build charging infrastructure along key European transport axes are making heavy electric transport more accessible. Recently, together with e-TROVA, we added another development: In 48 hours, we convert a diesel truck to an electric-powered variant with a target range of 300km per day.
Several aspects of electrification were discussed during the talk, including the financial implications for transport companies. Although new electric trucks are currently still more expensive than their diesel-engined counterparts, the long-term cost savings and lower environmental impact provide benefits.
However, an even more cost-effective solution is to convert existing diesel trucks to electric trucks, which generates significant savings and supports the circular economy. Jan Bracke says: "A new electric truck is very expensive. Roughly €350,000, €400,000 for a heavy duty truck. A new diesel, on the other hand, costs €150,000. So for a haulier, that actually means something. What we offer now is that that existing diesel truck can have a second life as an electric truck. At roughly a cost a third less than the new electric truck."
But what has ensured that we do now see opportunities to produce electric trucks?
- Continiously improving battery packs. With their significantly higher energy density, trucks can carry enough batteries to achieve a usable range.
- Efficient powertrains. The high efficiency of electric powertrains reduces energy consumption, making a usable range possible.
- Climate targets. By using renewable energy sources to recharge the batteries, a transporter can significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. This is crucial for achieving European climate targets.
Despite the benefits of electric trucks, some challenges remain, such as the need to expand charging infrastructure and manage battery weight to maintain load capacity. Nevertheless, both Jan and Patrick stressed that electrification is the way forward and that governments and industry players must work together to accelerate the transition. According to their estimates, the truck conversion market in Europe is around 420,000 vehicles. So there is still plenty of work to be done.
The electrification of heavy transport is no longer a distant dream, but a rapidly evolving reality. As battery technology continues to improve and infrastructure evolves, we can expect a future where the majority of heavy trucks on the road are electric. Initiatives such as e-TROVA's conversion programme are at the forefront of this transformation, offering affordable and environmentally friendly alternatives for the transport sector.
Curious about this podcast episode on truck electrification? Then listen or download the episode (Dutch only) via: