Technology

The Big Players In The Emerging Electric Trucks Trend

Tesla semitruck
Credit: Photo courtesy of Tesla

Cleaner air and brighter skies during the pandemic-induced lockdown across countries have shown the ongoing damage to our environment caused by harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions so far. WHO data estimates 91% of the world’s population living in places where air quality exceeds its guideline limits; emission from road transport being a primary cause. In recent years, governments around the world have placed stringent norms, exerted pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions carbon, and incentivized adoption of electric vehicles. These factors are pushing manufacturers to move away from conventional fossil powered internal combustion trucks towards the electric counterparts.

Here’s an overview of the electric trucks segment.

Trucking & Trends

Trucks are among the most important carriers of goods. The trucking industry is called the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Around 71% of all freight tonnage in the U.S. moves on the back of trucks. While trucks represent a small portion of the vehicle stock, their contribution to emissions is disproportionately high. In the U.S., medium- and heavy-duty trucks contribute 23% of the transportation sector’s GHG emissions. A 2019 report highlighted that vehicle tailpipe emissions resulted in around 385,000 premature deaths and approximately $1 trillion in health damages globally in 2015.

With commitments around the world, the shift towards electric is becoming more evident across all segments of road transportation. The global electric commercial vehicles market is expected to reach $96.85 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 21.8% from $48.54 billion in 2019 after witnessing a dip in 2020. While the global electric truck market is expected to register a CAGR of approximately 16.38% during 2019–2024. It is projected that the penetration of electric trucks into the global medium and heavy-duty market will touch 9.4% by 2030.

Manufacturers

Here’s a look at recent developments by manufacturers globally.

In March 2020, Renault began the serial production of its D and D Wide Z.E. electric trucks in its Blainville-sur-Orne plant. Renault Trucks has been investing heavily in electro mobility R&D since 2009 and has conducted real-world tests on various types of experimental full-electric 12–16 ton trucks. Renault Trucks predicts that electric vehicles will represent 10% of its sales volume by 2025.

Back in November 2019, Volvo announced the start of sales of its Volvo FL and Volvo FE electric trucks in selected markets within Europe. The Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS)  project “provides a blueprint to successfully introduce zero-emission battery electric trucks and equipment into the market at scale.” As part of the project, Volvo has placed VNR Electric trucks into real-world commercial operations. Volvo will begin the first phase of serial production and commercial offering of the Volvo VNR Electric in late 2020. 

Scania deployed two battery-operated Scania distribution trucks in Oslo, Norway for Norwegian wholesaler ASKO in February 2020. Scania’s plug-in hybrid truck is being used in a pilot of silent night-time deliveries to McDonald’s restaurants in Stockholm. Night deliveries are normally not permitted at night due to noise restrictions.

With its mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Tesla (TSLA) is a synonym to electric vehicles. Tesla unveiled Semi, a class 8 electric truck, in November 2017 with plans to deliver the trucks to customers in 2019. However, during the Q4 2019 earnings call, Elon Musk said that Tesla wanted to focus on increasing battery production capacity and continue to improve the cost per kilowatt hour of the batteries before accelerating the production of the Tesla Semi. Companies including Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, and Walmart have reportedly ordered the Tesla Semi. Elon Musk, in a recent memo, has said, “It’s time to go all out and bring the Tesla Semi to volume production. It’s been in limited production so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design.” On the other hand, estimates suggest that Tesla’s much talked about pick-up truck Cybertruck has over 600,000 pre-orders.

Workhorse (WKHSis a technology company focused on providing electric vehicles to the last-mile delivery sector. The company received the EPA's Certificate of Conformity for its C-Series electric last-mile delivery trucks in March 2020. "This certification allows our vehicles to be sold, delivered, and operated on U.S. roads,” said Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes. Workhorse is among the contenders for the USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicles contract estimated to be worth $6.3 billion.

Shenzhen-headquartered BYD (BYDDF) is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles and the global leader in battery-electric trucks. In January, BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the United States. Globally, BYD has delivered more than 12,000 zero-emission electric trucks across all classes.

Daimler (DDAIFis the world’s largest truck manufacturer. Daimler’s e-truck portfolio includes Freightliner eCascadia and eM2, the Mercedes-Benz eActros, Mercedes-Benz eEconic, and the FUSO eCanter.

Nikola (NKLAoffers both pure electric and also hydrogen electric powertrains to cover class 8 in transportation. Some of its models are Nikola One, Nikola Two, and Nikola Tre. In 2018, Anheuser-Busch placed an order for up to 800 hydrogen-electric powered semi-trucks from Nikola. In February 2020, Nikola unveiled Nikola Badger electric pickup truck.

In January 2020, PACCAR exhibited a battery-electric Peterbilt Model 520EV and a battery-electric Kenworth K270E. Kenworth expects to deliver K270E trucks to customers in 2020 while Peterbilt expects to deliver Model 520EV trucks to customers in 2021.

In March 2020, Toyota and Hino agreed to jointly develop a heavy-duty fuel cell truck. Earlier in January, Isuzu and Honda had agreed to undertake joint research on heavy-duty trucks, utilizing fuel cells (FC) as the powertrain.

Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles—the largest-ever order of electric delivery vehicles—from Rivian. Amazon is an investor in Rivian.

Final Word

While barriers such as inadequate recharging infrastructure and high initial costs remain, the shift to electric trucking has begun. Deloitte research shows that by 2022 “technological advancements will put the cost of owning an EV on par with traditional petrol or diesel vehicles.” Going forward, government support, profit incentives for OEMs and technology companies, running and maintenance costs and the creation of the requisite ecosystem will decide the speed at which the electric trucks will be seen on the road.

Disclaimer: The author has no position in any stocks mentioned. Investors should consider the above information not as a de facto recommendation, but as an idea for further consideration. The report has been carefully prepared, and any exclusions or errors in reporting are unintentional. Note: all­ electric vehicles can be powered using two ways: fuel cells or batteries, and thus both have been mentioned.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Prableen Bajpai

Prableen Bajpai is the founder of FinFix Research and Analytics which is an all women financial research and wealth management firm. She holds a bachelor (honours) and master’s degree in economics with a major in econometrics and macroeconomics. Prableen is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA, ICFAI) and a CFP®.

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