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Replacing diesel trucks with electric semis led to charging time and load losses passed on to customers

Electric rigs have challenging operating costs (image: Volvo)
Electric rigs have challenging operating costs (image: Volvo)
Green energy initiatives that will mandate all new semis be electric starting January 1, can lead to losses compared to using diesel trucks. The companies then have to pass a surcharge on to their customers in order to break even as charging times and lesser loads eat into their operating profits.

For one trucking company, the costs of operating its state-mandated electric semis meant a loss that it had to raise the delivery price with so as to break even. The extra costs compared to operating a diesel truck stemmed from much longer idle hours spent on a charger that the drivers still have to be paid for, as well as lower carrying loads on account of the EV weight with its heavy battery.

When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, the IMC transport company from Tennessee will only be able to register new drayage trucks in California if they are powered by electricity or hydrogen. Its current experience with its Volvo electric semis, however, is far from perfect. According to a WSJ investigation, going out of their way to find powerful enough chargers, and spending time on them to top up the battery, consumes up to 15 hours from a trucker's paid time per week.

The powerful California Air Resources Board passed the Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation in the spring, aiming to replace diesel rigs with electric semis as soon as possible but the state of their charging infrastructure is still in flux. The truckers have to use charging stations that aren't always fit for parking semis, so they often have to leave the trailer somewhere and go charge with just the head, then come back to pick it up.

To those inconveniences, they have to add hours of charging time spent at the stall that is idle in terms of freight hauling duties, so they pick way less jobs each day than they would with a diesel truck and run less actual load miles. The electric semis also carry less cargo than their diesel counterparts since the heavy battery adds extra weight to the truck.

While the drivers do appreciate the pull and quiet operation of the electric rigs, as well as the idle time they kill at chargers, their job commissions, hence take-home pay, are lower when driving them. When IMC ran the numbers for a daily route, it turned out that it "had lost $310 by operating the electric semi instead of a diesel truck," too, so it had to add a surcharge onto the delivery costs for the customer. Manufacturers like Volvo, however, are phasing out diesel rig production, so trucking companies soon won't have much choice on both ends of the equation. 

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 12 > Replacing diesel trucks with electric semis led to charging time and load losses passed on to customers
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-12-30 (Update: 2023-12-31)