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Research shows electricity is cheaper than diesel for heavy cargo vehicles

21, Tháng 06, 2023
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Photo: Chalmers/Pixabay

In the past, the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles transporting goods over long distances was considered unprofitable. But now researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have shown that it can be cheaper to run heavy cargo vehicles on electricity than with diesel engines. "I am personally amazed by the results and hope that many trucking companies and heavy vehicle manufacturers will be willing to invest in electrification once we have demonstrated that it can be cost-effective. cost," said Johannes Karlsson, PhD student in Automated Control Engineering at Chalmers.

The shift from fossil fuels to electric fleets has so far been most pronounced in lighter vehicles, such as personal cars and delivery vans. In the case of heavy duty vehicles (HGVs) traveling long distances, the transition is slow because of the prevailing view that such vehicles would require large batteries that take up too much load capacity to operate. Electricity is not profitable. But now researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have discovered that electricity can actually be a cheaper alternative to diesel - even for heavy-duty vehicles.

"We looked at a scenario where heavy cargo vehicles traveled 553 km between Helsingborg and Stockholm in Sweden. We compared two different battery sizes and two possible prices for fast charging. Our argument is that it seems possible to electrify this type of vehicle in a cost-effective way," says Johannes Karlsson.

Research based on real data
In the study, the researchers created a model based on data from a real transport company in the town of Helsingborg, chosen because it could be considered to have typical missions and operating conditions. for a transport company in that area of Sweden covering long distances. The large battery doesn't need to be recharged on the road, just at the company's own warehouse, but it already takes up more load capacity. Smaller batteries need fast charging on the road but don't limit their load capacity. The results show that running on electricity is profitable for the transportation company in the study.

"With the right battery size, it is in many cases possible to electrify heavy cargo vehicles so that the cost is equal to or lower than if they were powered by diesel engines. determined by light loads being transported, such as parcels or vegetables, or heavy loads, such as beverages or wood. vehicle and fast charging rack. A realistic future scenario is that the HGV will have different battery sizes," said Johannes Karlsson.

Investing in batteries and charging equipment comes at a cost. To make the investment worthwhile, researchers have shown in a previous study  that electric HGV's batteries  need to be charged and discharged at least 1,400 times, which is what most commercial vehicles do. are beyond their lifespan.

Hope to speed up the transition
Studies of the kind done by Johannes Karlsson and his colleague Anders Grauers are unusual. In the past, the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles has primarily considered situations where the HGV moves and is charged in a confined area, such as a harbour. The Chalmers researchers now hope that their results will accelerate the transition from diesel to electric in heavy-duty truck transportation.

"We've shown that a fleet of heavy-duty trucks can be cost-effectively electrified. This will give companies an incentive to invest in the transition. Incentives Financing often means that changes can be made quickly, and our research is practical for many transportation operations. " says Anders Grauers, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers.

In this study, diesel prices are set at €1.20 per liter and fast charging prices at €0.17 per kilowatt hour or, alternatively, €0.40 per kilowatt hour. Prices stated do not include VAT. On the other hand, the researchers argue that costs such as maintenance are the same for HGVs regardless of whether they run on electricity or diesel.

The model used in the study is based on data from a transportation company with actual conditions and tasks. Although the researchers assumed low diesel prices, the study concluded that it was profitable for a transportation company to electrify its fleet of HGVs, with the exception of mostly maximum allowable payload vehicles. .

The study, "Cost-effective electrification case study of long-haul trucks", was published in the journal  Energies.

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