Real-world performance of battery electric heavy-duty vehicles in China: Energy consumption, range, and charging patterns

The data for this report comes from the open lab of the National Big Data Alliance of New Energy Vehicles (NDANEV), an organization that aims to better monitor and manage the operation of new energy vehicles (NEVs). The open lab of NDANEV has been in operation since the beginning of 2017 and the number of vehicles connected exceeds 9.2 million, which is about 90% of China’s NEV stock. For this study, ICCT set the scope, metrics to investigate, and methodology based on the parameters that are contained in the event-level data, and the open lab of NDANEV processed the raw data based on the methodology we specified and shared the aggregated data.

We evaluated the best-selling electric models in 2021 in each of nine popular categories of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs): city bus, coach, tractor-trailer, dump truck, straight truck, stake truck, box truck, special use vehicle, and tank truck. For the top-selling model in sales nationally in each of the nine categories, the top three best-selling cities in 2021 were identified and, collectively, that yielded nearly 12,000 vehicles in the data sample. The vehicle operations data analyzed is from full calendar year 2021.

For all categories, vehicles displayed less electric range in daily operations than the nominal values suggest, and in an extreme case, electric trucks were about 40% inferior to the nominal range. The real-world ranges were mostly consistent across cities, which implies that climate and geographical terrain conditions are not necessarily key elements in procurement decisions. The charging patterns observed imply that range anxiety still exists and fleet operators apply a strategy of “charging whenever possible,” which often means charging frequently throughout a day.

Based on these results, and to help narrow the gap between nominal and real-world performance, policymakers in China might consider extending the type-approval procedure for determining the electric driving range to include cold and hot ambient temperatures and using drive cycles that are representative of the vehicle application when certifying the electric driving range. Additionally, policymakers can support operators of electric HDVs by incentivizing cost-effective charging through time-varying tariffs.

*This publication was updated on 25 May, 2023 to remove results for city buses and coaches at high speed from Figure 4. The original can be found here.

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