Trucking Goes Electric: Accelerating Toward A Greener Future

Credit: Toll Group, FlickrCCThe idea of an electric car isn’t a new one. Some of the first vehicles ever invented were powered by electricity rather than internal combustion engines. While they didn’t take off as quickly, the idea has always been there, just waiting for technology to catch up with our imaginations.

Choosing an electric vehicle over a more traditional option is a great way for the average consumer to shrink their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment. Until recently, though, this technology has been limited to passenger vehicles. Advances through 2019 and 2020 have shown that this may be a viable option for larger vehicles, such as trucks.

Here are some reasons the trucking industry is considering going electric.

Reducing Fuel Costs

Fuel costs have always been one of the biggest expenses in the trucking industry. Even if contracts don’t change, expenses vary depending on the price of oil at any given time. With freight trucks transporting roughly 80% of the cargo moved within the United States, those costs play an enormous role in efficiency and profit within the industry.

Instead of relying on fossil fuels, electric trucks get their power from the grid. There is some price fluctuation with coal-burning plants regularly changing the cost of electricity based on fuel expenditures. However, the changes are dramatically less than they would be for a truck driver pulling up to the diesel pump every time they need to refill the tank.

Once you move beyond the initial investment that accompanies purchasing an electric truck, these vehicles may end up paying for themselves. This will be especially beneficial for small companies that often find themselves struggling to stay out of the red when fuel costs start to climb toward the stratosphere.

Contending With New Regulations

Advances in modern automotive technology have helped reduce emissions created by massive trucks. In fact, they dropped 40% between 2007 and 2017, according to the EPA. However, the trucking industry remains one of the largest creators of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The Cleaner Trucks Initiative was introduced in 2018 to update the emissions standards for heavy freight trucks, something the organization hadn’t done since 2001.

Rather than contending with the problem of retrofitting older trucks to meet new emissions standards, companies now have the option to choose electric vehicles to circumvent the need for compliance testing. This will make life easier for drivers and their employers alike.

This switch will also become vital as more cities start establishing low emission zones (LEZs) where traditional freight trucks won’t be allowed. While these are currently more common outside of the United States, we may start seeing them here in the future. LEZs are reducing air pollution in neighborhoods and cities by restricting the use of high-emission vehicles. These neighborhoods provide public transportation or redesign their streets so pedestrians and cyclists can move safely.

An Electric Future for the Trucking Industry

Electric freight trucks are expensive, but so too were electric passenger cars when they first started hitting the market. Now you can bring home an electric car or SUV for roughly the same price as its more traditional counterpart, unless you’re going for one of the really fancy options like a Tesla Roadster.

The future of the trucking industry will likely be steeped in electric vehicles, which will be a good change. These trucks will reduce emissions, make the sector more efficient and end up shrinking costs in the long run. That’s something most people agree will lead to a better future for the industry and the planet, as well.