E-Diesel Truck Costs 47% More Than Electric Truck – Counting Operation

Trucks running on e-fuels cost more

By 2035, buying and operating a new long-haul diesel truck with pure e-diesel would cost 47% more than buying and operating a battery electric truck (BET) ¹. Indeed, the lower energy and maintenance costs of a battery electric truck quickly offset its higher purchase costs. Meanwhile, vehicles running on e-fuels would be significantly more expensive due to the high cost of a liter of e-fuel.

The study compares the price of e-fuels under various scenarios, and even in the most optimistic scenario, e-fuels are still 15% more expensive than battery electric trucks. This scenario considers using e-fuels in a used truck and comparing a BET with high battery and charging costs.

Max Mollière, e-mobility data analyst at T&E, said: “Cost is a huge consideration for road transport companies, which is why battery electric trucks are the way to go. Electric fuels are a desperate attempt by the fuel industry to throw themselves a lifeline at the expense of carriers operating on low margins. Why impose expensive e-fuels on them when there is a cleaner, cheaper solution at hand? Europe recently announced that it won’t use e-fuels in cars for a good reason, so let’s put trucks on the same track.

Electric fuels in trucks emit more GHG emissions than battery electric trucks

In a typical case2, a diesel-electric truck would emit almost three times more GHG emissions over its lifetime than a battery-electric truck (BET) charged with average grid electricity. In the best case where 100% renewable energy is used for electric fuel generation and BET charging, an e-diesel truck still emits 41% more than a BET. Despite the higher manufacturing emissions from battery production, electric fuel trucks emit significantly more GHG emissions over their lifetime than BETs. Indeed, most GHG emissions are caused during the driving phase and trucks have high mileage.

Just enough e-fuel to power 6% of trucks in 2035

Concawe, the oil industry research group, has modeled that European production of e-fuels for road transport will reach 6 Mtoe in 2035. This would meet only 6% of truck fuel demand in 2035 Current projections for transport e-fuel imports only project imports of e-kerosene and e-ammonia, which would not apply to road transport. There are no public projections for import volumes of e-diesel or e-petrol from abroad to Europe, which means that the supply of e-fuels for trucks and cars would be very limited3.

If these 6 Mtoe of e-fuels were to be used in trucks, the remaining amount for aviation and maritime transport would be insufficient for the decarbonisation of these two sectors, where other technologies such as electric ships and planes and hydrogen fuels are neither feasible nor scalable, says T&E.

“After its attempt with cars, the fossil fuel industry hopes to resurrect electric fuels in trucks. The claim that this technology is an evolutionary solution to decarbonizing is false for cars and new evidence shows that it is also wrong here. They will jeopardize the transition to electric trucks and lockable diesel technologies for much longer than our planet can sustain,” concluded Max Mollière.

The European Commission is preparing to revise the CO2 standards for trucks by the end of 2022. Ahead of the proposal, T&E calls for:

  • Give fuel no role in regulating sales of new vehicles;
  • End the sale of all new freight trucks with combustion engines by 2035.

1 BETs are less sensitive to fluctuations in energy prices than conventional trucks due to their greater efficiency. Electric fuels, on the other hand, are much more affected by high electricity prices due to the large amount of electricity required to produce them.

2 The typical case assumes that e-diesel production does not exceed the 70% GHG reduction needed to comply with the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).

3 In a recent report, the Hydrogen Council predicted that by 2050 the only hydrogen-derived fuels imported into Europe will be synthetic kerosene and ammonia. https://hydrogencouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Global-Hydrogen-Flows.pdf

Originally published by Transport & Environment.

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