MN truckers slam the brakes on e-vehicles any time soon

It’s Truck to the Capitol Day, a time for members of the Minnesota Trucking Association to make the drive to St. Paul to meet with “elected officials to let them know how important the trucking industry is to Minnesota’s economy.” One of the influential group’s key messages may not be well received by a DFL-controlled legislature obsessed with slashing Minnesota’s carbon footprint, including a transition to zero-emission vehicles.

“The trucking industry has proven that we can achieve both meaningful emission reductions and a stable supply chain if we follow a thoughtful, fuel-neutral developmental process,” said MTA President John Hausladen. “If we don’t get this right and force vehicle electrification over other promising options, it will impact the cost and availability of food, clothing, medicine, appliances, machine parts, and thousands of other goods.”

A new MTA report just out warns the 18-wheelers who haul most of the nation’s food and goods to market will not be turning to electric trucks to do the job “for decades to come.”

“The development gap between electric cars versus heavy-duty trucks is enormous,” Hausladen said. “In fact, the report noted the transition for 18-wheelers and other heavy-duty vehicles is “largely conceptual,” and faces challenges with technology and infrastructure that will require substantial government investments over many years.

“The reality is that Class 7-8 trucks will be powered by internal combustion engines run on diesel or similar fuels for decades to come,” the MTA report concluded. “Government policies need to acknowledge and address this reality rather than mandate the use of a specific alternative propulsion source – such as electricity – to power heavy trucks.”

The report also points out that not only does the technology for long-haul trucks lag far behind the auto industry. The cost to buy electric trucks runs more than double that of conventional current models.

A new, clean-diesel long-haul tractor typically costs between $180,000 to $200,000, while a comparable battery-electric tractor can cost upwards of $480,000.

Battery Loss in Cold Weather: Battery electric trucks in cold weather states such as Minnesota are specifically challenged due to the 30-40% reduction in performance.

The MTA report includes information to serve as a valuable resource for trucking fleets and advises them to follow a “go slow” approach regarding equipment investments. The report determined that the development of heavy-duty electric trucks, necessary infrastructure and pricing are not practical for near or mid-term adoption for the long-haul sector. 

The gap in refueling time for diesel compared to electric exposes just how far the notion of relying on electric trucks has to go.

Diesel fueling takes just 15 minutes, allowing a truck to travel approximately 1,200 miles before needing to refuel, while long-haul battery-electric trucks require 5-8 hours to charge and can cover 150-330 miles, assuming chargers are available.

The trucking association report was undertaken to analyze “the risks to consumers and businesses by pushing an all-electric fleet” in the aim of encouraging prudent policies and spending that lead to emissions reductions without undermining the economy.