Sales of electric vehicles will take off in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market. For example, Amazon committed in 2019 to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. And it announced that it had crossed the threshold of 10,000 electric LCVs in service in the United States in October 2023. These vehicles are built by Rivian, Tesla …
Sales of electric vehicles will take off in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market. For example, Amazon committed in 2019 to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. And it announced that it had crossed the threshold of 10,000 electric LCVs in service in the United States in October 2023. These vehicles are built by Rivian, Tesla competitor. As in other technological areas, Amazon wants to integrate innovations or at least, control them well. Thus, Rivian’s first customer, Amazon is also its largest shareholder (with 17% of the capital). He also promised to order 100,000 more LCVs by 2030. These new Amazon electric LCVs should arrive in Europe before the end of 2023. A first batch of 300 vehicles being put into service in Germany.
Urban trucks: 3% of registrations in Europe
For small urban heavy goods vehicles (LP) (>3.5T and <7.5T), electrification is also underway with 3% of registrations in Europe for this type of vehicle (ICCT study of August 2023 ). Indeed, most vehicles, which deliver in city tours, cover a maximum of 200 km per day, if the starting point (depot) is not too far from the center of the city. This corresponds to the range of an electric vehicle. This technology is therefore mature for this segment. Moreover, all manufacturers already have vehicles in their range that are well suited to this type of use. The European market leader being Volvo Trucks. The average daily distance observed is corroborated by recent DIAGMA studies, with the average mileage varying between 130 km/day and 250 km/day.
Beyond the environmental aspect, electric energy has many advantages: reduced maintenance, less risk of breakdown, access to city centers and ZFEs. For the moment, the share of electric vehicles sold in this size is low, but it is expected to increase significantly in the future.
Slower electrification of heavier vehicles
The electrification of heavier vehicles (up to the semi-trailer) should be slower, in particular for “long-haul” uses, even if manufacturers offer offers in this area. According to the ICCT study of August 2023, large capacity electric vehicles represented only 0.3% of total registrations in Europe. That is 800 out of 265,000, even if the increase was 167% from one year to the next! Indeed, setting up charging stations in a warehouse is already complex. Reserved parking spaces, important safety aspects, long installation time, sometimes unsuitable site power supply, cost of rapid terminals… there is no shortage of brakes!
The difficulty of long distances for electric trucks
Likewise, moving goods with electric trucks over long distances is difficult to envisage today, for 3 main reasons:
- The network of fast charging stations is still non-existent. And the objective of having fast charging terminals for trucks every 60 km on the main network in 2030 remains distant.
- To obtain greater autonomy, the truck must “carry” a lot of batteries. Which further reduces its payload…and its interest. The range offered to carriers does not exceed 500 km to date.
- The cost of such vehicles is still very high and the return on investment is uncertain.
A preponderance of electric vehicles in the city
In the near future, electric vehicles should therefore focus on uses in urban distribution (limited distance traveled, return to the same point each day) and on vehicles adapted to these urban journeys (light utility vehicles, trucks). Thus, electrification will significantly reduce the carbon footprint, at least in countries where electricity production is low carbon intensity. This is for example the case of France, with the contribution of the nuclear fleet. However, it is not that of Poland, where a large share of electricity is currently produced from coal.
Alternative fuels still attractive…
Apart from electric vehicles, and while waiting for future green hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (not available for several years), the alternatives to electric mobility are biofuels (B100) and natural gas for vehicles or CNG (which can be Bio CNG, for example from a methanizer). These alternatives are less expensive than the electric truck. And in the case of biofuel, a simple diesel vehicle retrofit can make it possible to use it. The issue of purchase price therefore does not arise. This is why these alternatives are more developed today. But the gap should gradually narrow in favor of electric vehicles which could become the majority in the vehicle fleet around 2040.
…but in limited capacity for some
Until then, the availability of these alternative fuels is a strong constraint. For green fuels, several sectors wish to use them, even though their supply is limited. Should we encourage the use of such fuels in air transport, a very polluting mode of transport, or in road transport? Should we reserve fields for this use rather than to feed humanity? You’ll have to choose because there won’t be something for everyone!
For NGV (which can be of agricultural origin: BioNGV), the problem concerns the economic cost, which can vary very greatly over time. Hence the difficulty in estimating the life cycle cost and deciding to invest. At the start of the crisis in Ukraine, some DIAGMA customers put their heavy goods vehicles running on CNG in the garage! The cost of using them had become prohibitive.
Model your transport carbon trajectory by 2030!
If you want to think about ways to reduce your carbon footprint in terms of transport & logistics, or model your carbon trajectory by 2030 on your transport position, do not hesitate to call on the experts at DIAGMA!