Why the grid is ready for fleets of electric trucks

While short-range electric trucks seem relatively close to commercial reality, some researchers have cautioned that stretching the range of electric trucks might not be technologically or economically feasible in the short term.

“For sure you would do short haul, there’s no question about it, because the economics are in favor, everything is in favor,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University. And with batteries getting cheaper and lighter, trucks that can travel up to around 500 miles between charges are looking more realistic, Viswanathan says.

But batteries would need to keep getting cheaper and lighter to compete with the range of diesel trucks, which can cover more than 1,000 miles without refueling. Alternatively, fast charging might open up some of the longest routes to electric trucks eventually, although the infrastructure needed to support fast charging for even bigger batteries would require significant investment.

“A few of these trucks coming and charging would be like the entire power load of a small town,” Viswanathan adds.