Charging Every Truck with Electricity
You may remember a few months ago where we calculated how long it would take for a truck driver to travel across the entire United States using an electric truck. Another interesting question to consider when taking extra to time charge with electricity when compared to diesel is how many chargers it would take to keep all of those electric vehicles running. If every Class 8 big rig on the road were replaced with electricity-powered engines, how many chargers would we need for smooth operations?
Likewise with traveling across the USA on electricity, we need to do some generalizations so the calculations do not take numerous years to complete. A little inaccuracy can save a ton of explanation!
- There are 4,060,000 Class 8 trucks in the United States.
- Different trucks have different ranges and charge time. For our hypothetical, we will use the Freightliner eCascadia for all trucks. It is the middle of the road in both range and charge times.
- The more charged a battery is, the slower it gains more charge. The first percentage point is easy, but having every truck charge to 100% capacity adds a lot of unneeded service time. All chargers will charge trucks to 80%.
- The time it takes to switch from charging one truck to another will be zero. In reality, this could take a lot of time if the waiting truck’s driver went inside for some snacks and a shower.
- One-third of all truck drivers sleep for each eight-hour period (morning, day, night), where the trucks will be charging.
Each truck will need to charge three times during an active work day, plus one more time for whatever time the trucker is sleeping. Because one-third of all truckers are sleeping at a given time, it will take 1,353,333 chargers to hold them.
The remaining 2,706,667 trucks will need to take turns on the charger, then drive until they run out of fuel and charge again. If we assume that a truck takes ninety minutes to charge and can then drive for three hours, it will be another three-shift system for the awake drivers, where two shifts are driving and one is charging. In total, the country will need at least 2,255,556 chargers to keep the trucking industry running on 100% electricity.
Aside from pointing out the absurdity of just how many charging stations we would need, the long charge times mean that truckers will have to spend 33% of their working time refueling, compared to single digits with refueling diesel.
For these reasons, we believe the single biggest problem facing the electric truck revolution is not the production of the vehicles, but the infrastructure to keep them going on the road. We will need faster charging stations and higher capacity batteries in order to fully make the transition.
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