Working Paper

Battery electric tractor-trailers in the European Union: A vehicle technology analysis

Electrification Zero-emission vehicles
Engineering & manufacturing

Long-haul trucks are responsible for the bulk of road freight CO2 emissions in Europe. However, at the time the heavy-duty vehicle CO2 standards were finalized in the European Union in 2019, there was little information available on zero-emission technologies. The 2022 review of the CO2 standards presents a latent opportunity to include zero-emissions HDV in the techno economic assessment underlying the stringency of the CO2 standards. This study presents a vehicle technology analysis for battery electric long-haul tractor-trailers, focusing on the quantification of the energy efficiency and driving range under typical operating conditions.

The analysis leads to the following key findings:

  • The current driving range of battery electric long-haul tractor-trailers under typical use profiles could exceed 500 km for a battery size of around 1,000 kWh. However, improvements in battery energy density, road-load technologies, and transmission efficiency, will enable substantially smaller batteries around 700 kWh to achieve a 500 km driving range in the future, a 30% reduction in battery energy capacity requirements.
  • Battery electric powertrains can achieve a 500 km daily driving range with just a 11% payload penalty in comparison to diesel powertrains, mainly driven by the additional weight of the battery pack. However, scenarios for future technology improvement eliminate the payload penalty and rather generate a payload gain for distances less than 500 km.
  • Extreme cold and hot temperatures impact the driving range of battery-electric trucks by less than 9% if proper technologies are deployed. The analysis shows that, if efficient heat pumps are used, the impact of extreme ambient temperatures of -7°C and 35°C on the driving range does not exceed 9%. These additional energy needs are mostly driven by the thermal management of the battery and, to a lesser extent, by the thermal management of the cabin.