New Report: Electric Trucks Pay For Themselves in Less Than Four Years


Despite advances in fuel efficiency, the costs for diesel consumption is still a major line item for owner-operators and trucking companies. To eliminate some of these expenses and improve air quality, elected officials have been gradually mandating a collective switch over to electric vehicles for public use, and the private sector is following their lead.

In response, truck drivers and trucking companies have outlined all the hurdles they must face to make the switch from diesel to electric. The upfront investment costs for a new truck is, obviously, a major concern. It’s easy for a legislator to vote for an electric vehicle bill, but what about the people trying to make a living in the trucking industry?

Well, according to a new report from UC-Berkeley, UCLA, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory electric trucks will pay for themselves in roughly three years at current kWh potential. And after that, the savings get passed onto the owner of the truck.

Price Per Gallon

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the price per mile using electricity can be as low as $0.04 – only $4 per 100 miles. To compare, the average cost of diesel is about $3.19 per gallon, and today’s trucks get about seven miles per gallon. Which means the price per mile using diesel is about $0.46 – $46 per 100 miles.

The electric price per mile estimate is formulated using electricity priced at $0.13 kWh in a vehicle that gets 33 kWh per 100 miles. Since this needs to be scaled up to get an accurate reading, researchers had to conduct a bit of extra work to determine how long it would take to pay for an electric semi truck. Here are the stats they came up with.

• Global price of a battery pack for an electric semi truck is $135 kWh
• Each pack covers an average of 300 miles per day
• 30 minutes of recharging
• Long-haul truckers cover about 190 miles between shift start and meal break
• Power and space concerns may lead to a 3% reduction in cargo hauled

Based on these stats, the total cost of ownership (TCO), is 13% less than owning and operating a truck that runs on diesel. Bear in mind, the TCO reduction percentage includes the potential overestimate of 3% haul reduction, which may become 0% as battery technology improves.

The researchers estimate that within 3-years an electric truck pays for itself. From there, truck owners can expect less maintenance and a low TCO. The report estimates $200,000 in savings is generated at the 15-year mark.

If this report turns out to be accurate, then the race to build and buy the most effective electric vehicles should continue to accelerate.