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2021 Electric Truck & Bus Update, Part 3, Technology

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

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  • Sep 7, 2021

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This is Part 3 and focuses on the technology that will probably be used for medium and heavy on-road vehicles in the immediate future. Although I have some thoughts on this, I do not have the credibility to guess what technology will dominate.

The reason this post exists is that a team of highly credible analysts developed a suite of models that projected different future scenarios using different technologies for medium and heavy transportation energy usage, and thoroughly analyzed each of these. The result is the “Comparison of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Technologies in California,” which was posted on the California Energy Commission’s Transportation Docket Log.

This post is primarily drawn from the described document (linked in the post).

Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Charles Botsford, PE on Sep 8, 2021

Hi John,

Nice analysis. I like the final chart on drayage truck TCO options now and in 2030. I can see how the Total Cost of Ownership for hydrogen HD vehicles is ~2.5 times that of electric HD vehicles considering the well-to-wheels efficiency of electric is about 3 times higher than hydrogen.

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Sep 9, 2021

Thanks for the comment, Charles.

Two or three years ago I evaluated the price of stationary hydrogen fuel cells for a client. They were really expensive (six to seven figures). 

I know Toyota and Honda have done a good job of driving down the price of these for light vehicles, but these will not work for heavy vehicles. Although New Flyer offers a hydrogen fuel cell bus Part 2, section 2.6) with the demise of Nikola (Part 1, section 2.7) and the revelation if was a fraud, I don't believe there are any potential heavy truck manufacturers interested in this technology. 


Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Charles Botsford, PE on Sep 10, 2021

I think I saw that Cummins had acquired Hydrogenics a while back. However, I agree the consensus is to go towards electrification with the medium- and heavy-duty transportation sector. While the climate change benefits are a good thing, the economics and performance are the really big drivers. On the light-duty side, Toyota seems to be the last bastion of hydrogen. I don't think they can afford to do that much longer.

John Benson's picture
Thank John for the Post!
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