Heavy-duty trucks are the main source of pollution and noise from urban freight. Electrifying these fleets brings substantial benefits to cities and the freight companies while advancing the transition to clean transport. Moving to electric fleets at an affordable price is possible today, if logistics operators understand the associated costs.

This study by the International Council on Clean Transportation and the Regulatory Assistance Project examines fleet electrification, delving into the energy requirements and the various factors driving costs.

Authors Dr. Julia Hildermeier, Dr. Felipe Rodríguez and Andreas Jahn conclude that charging electric trucks at the depot is most economical and allows logistics operators to capture consumer and grid benefits — if they optimise their charging processes. The authors provide new insights by analysing the costs of charging an electric truck fleet based on an estimation of their energy requirements. The analysis is based on real vehicle and charging data from logistics operators using electric trucks in their operations today. The study approximates grid costs using selected operators’ locations in Germany and the depot’s average consumption as a reference case.

To optimise charging processes, urban freight companies should investigate different charging options based on the schedules for their electric vehicles. Understanding

  • the expenses for the depot’s electricity consumption, taxes and levies,
  • prices for electricity and the network charges paid for its delivery, and
  • fluctuations in cost related to the time and level of charging

are all vital to a realistic assessment of total expenditure.

Electrifying city logistics cost-efficiently entails inherent challenges based on the number of different stakeholders involved. Collaboration, therefore, is essential. Policymakers can support logistics operators in the electrification of their fleets by reforming network charges and moving to time-varying tariffs. Member States can accelerate this process by setting ambitions high when implementing recent electricity market reforms. European decision-makers can prepare for electrification of heavy-duty transport by including requirements for future e-truck charging infrastructure in the legislative framework on electric vehicle charging, the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive, which is currently under review.

Heavy-duty vehicle electrification is evolving rapidly, and this study provides initial strategies and use cases that prepare the groundwork for further change. The authors provide clear recommendations for logistics operators, power sector regulators, and transport and infrastructure stakeholders.