A new report from Price Waterhouse Coopers Strategy (PwC) predicts that zero-emission trucks will be outperforming legacy ICE trucks about a decade from now. The dawn of electrified trucking: Routes to decarbonising commercial vehicles forecasts that by 2030, zero-emission vehicles (battery-electric or fuel cell) will account for a third of all trucks in Europe, North America and China, and 70 percent by 2035.
As PwC sees it, two main factors are driving the decarbonization of trucking: increasingly strict regulatory requirements and decreasing total cost of ownership (TCO) for ZEVs.
Electric trucks “will start making more economic sense than any other technology as early as 2025,” and will “reach a cost advantage of ~30% over internal combustion engine vehicles in 2030.”
The transition to electric trucks will depend on the timely deployment of sufficient charging infrastructure. PwC estimates that Europe will need to invest as much as 36 billion euros by 2035 for a network of charging stations and hydrogen filling stations.
“The transformation is currently picking up tremendous speed,” study co-author Jörn Neuhausen told the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche. He notes that the EU is planning to offer electric trucks lower road use fees beginning in May 2023. “Logistics companies can thus save up to 25,000 euros per truck per year.”
Of course, what a financial research firm considers “tremendous speed” might be considered a pokey pace by EV advocates. Once e-trucks offer a lower TCO than diesel-burners (and some claim that that is already the case for some vehicle classes), won’t fleet owners have to go electric quickly to remain competitive? On the other hand, the pace of such a major shift for the world’s transportation system will depend on a host of unpredictable factors, including the speed of production ramp-ups, the availability of raw materials, and the formidable political power of fossil-fuel interests. We’ll leave the crystal-gazing to others, but note that some seers have revised their estimates for the pace of EV adoption upwards several times over the last few years.