Thursday, 9 December 2010

Electric Trucks: Told you so

So I've been ranting about Electric Trucks being a key component of the solution to peak oil. Specifically they address the depot to local market delivery problem in the logistical transport of goods network. At a stretch they could also address the last mile in the fast crash scenario where there are liquid fuel shortages and not enough electric cars built.

Any case, returning to reality. As I have pointed out before, Electric Trucks have been not only cost competitive in Europe for some time now, they have also netted cost savings compared to the equivalent diesel based solution for delivery networks such as those operated by Federal Express, DHL and others.

Now we have proof of concept in the North American market. Frito-Lay and Staples have now put in large orders of Smith Electric Vehicles medium duty trucks (16,000 lb vehicles with a range of 100 miles fully charged and a top speed of 50mph).

Both Frito-Lay and Staples (as well as Fedex) have now conducted reasonable trials and concluded that over a ten year period due to reduced costs of fuel (electricity is cheaper and more fuel efficient than diesel) combined with reduced maintenance costs, electric truck will be *much* cheaper to operate in the *current* diesel-price environment than an equivalent diesel based truck.

So... the *market* is providing a solution to keeping goods on our shelves.

We're not there yet in terms of an electric vehicle being much less expensive for personal trannsportation simply because the duty cycle is less intense and the maintenance and fuel costs are much lower over a vehicle lifetime, but we are within a factor of 2 for Europe and a factor of 3 for North America.

My personal guess is that inside of ten years we should be hitting the sweet spot.
Tighten our belts a little and we should make it comfortably.

Here are the cost savings broken down right here:

Smith Electric Vehicles trucks cost $30,000 more than an equivalent diesel.

The Annual maintenance cost of a diesel is about $2,700 in most years.
An Electric vehicle which doesn't need fluids, belts and associated parts is about $250, given an annual saving of $2500 more or less.

Brakes also have significant cost savings: Regenerative brakes on electric vehicles need repaired only every four or five years rather than every year, so there's an additional saving of $1000 more or less.

Also since Electric Vehicles are by definition zero emissions, the exhaust cleaning system at $700 annually is not required.

The results of Staples trial suggests that the fuel savings at *current* prices of diesel (hardly peak oil or even current European territory) are around $6500.

I make that to be a savings of $10,700 per year or slightly less than 3 years payback. If the vehicle lifetime is 10 years then you have 7 years where it costs $10,700 less per year to run than a diesel equivalent. Therefore over a ten year period you are STUPID not to buy electric trucks to replace your diesel trucks or you just happen to have 7 x $10,700 (approx $75000) to throw away on each of your diesel trucks.

Here's a story going into greater detail in the Wall Street Journal:


SG said...

Don't forget electric buses:

DB said...


You're right. Electric buses are a slam-dunk piece of low hanging fruit we should be reaching for immediately.

SG said...

On the topic of EVs, the trailer to the documentary "Revenge of the Electric Car" is out:

This is from the same people that produced "Who Killed the Electric Car".

Looks interesting.