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2. February 2024 | Press release

Estonian carriers are more and more interested in electric trucks

There are three electric trucks on Estonian roads today, and the interest of transport companies in electric trucks is growing. At the same time, the capital intensity of the investment and the existing charging network do not yet support their wider use. According to experts, the technologies for heavy trucks in the form of electric trucks, in addition to trucks running on biomethane, are an emission-free solution that helps meet the set climate goals.

 

According to Remo Kirss, CEO of DPD Estonia, the very strong price pressure on the transport of goods for the last mile plays an important role in purchasing an electric truck, which leads to a situation where it is difficult for logistics companies to even buy a new diesel truck.

"The DPD Estonian truck fleet has 60 distribution trucks, for which we are looking for a more sustainable alternative. Today, we use both HVO diesel fuel based on renewable raw materials and biogas. Today we are testing an electric truck to find the right technology to prevent CO2 emissions. The experience gained shows that switching to electric trucks would be a potential step to reduce the environmental load of the truck fleet, but at the moment it is hindered by both the missing charging infrastructure and the excessively long charging time,"

said Kirss.

According to Kaur Sarv, manager of Scania's sustainable transport solutions and driver services, Estonian transporters are quite interested in electric trucks, but the purchase decision is not reached initially, because buying an electric truck is very capital-intensive at the beginning.

"At the moment, buying an electric truck is about twice as expensive as a similar diesel truck, but if you use charging at a cheaper price at the home depot at night or the company's own renewable electricity, the average price per kilometer of an electric truck is already competitive with a diesel truck if it has enough mileage,"

he pointed out.

According to the CEO of DPD Estonia, a complete transition to electric trucks and the establishment of the necessary charging capacity would require tens of millions of euros from the company. According to Kirss, in addition to price, time is also an important factor.

"It currently takes 2 hours to fully charge an electric truck's battery in a fast charger, which means that it is not possible to do intermediate charging in the middle of the working day. The driving range of the machine should be enough for the car to drive for a whole working day on one charge, but currently the capacity of the machine is not that great yet. This can be due to the skill and experience of the driver as well as the choice of drivetrain. For example, electric vehicles consume more energy on the highway, which means that in the case of an electric truck, it is very important to choose the right equipment and size of cargo space according to the transport cycle,"

he pointed out.

According to Scania representative Kaur Sarv, this year solutions to the issues of driving range and charging speed of electric trucks will arrive with new models of both regional and city trucks, where battery capacity, truck power and charging speeds will increase by half. These new electric trucks can be ordered now.

"Certainly, the carrier must think clearly for himself whether he wants a distribution truck that drives more in the city or a regional truck that works mainly on the road. It depends on whether the electric truck is already suitable for the carrier's tasks or we have to wait for models built for longer distances,"

said Sarv.

 

By the end of next year, 12 charging points for heavy trucks will be added

In addition to the high cost, the introduction of electric trucks is also limited by the lack of charging infrastructure, which Alexela is currently building.

"To date, we have installed two 400 kW chargers to ensure the market entry of electric heavy trucks. The first was opened last October at the Täkupoiss gas station in Sauga, and the Alexela Jüri gas station was added at the beginning of January this year. In the coming months, we will also open a 400 kW charger at the Alexela Peterburi tee gas station,"

explained Alexela e-mobility manager Alan Vaht

By the end of next year, the plan is to reach 12 charging points for heavy trucks. Since there are few electric heavy trucks on the roads today, chargers with a charging capacity of 400 kW are also designed for charging electric passenger cars and vans,"

explained Vaht.

According to Vahti, the picture will change dramatically in the next 5-10 years, and the share of electric trucks will increase significantly.

"In addition to the goals set by companies to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations, changes are also driven by the increase in the diesel excise tax, the increase in road user fees that is being coordinated, and the CO2 tax that will apply to fossil fuels from 2027. The listed components make the consumption of fossil fuels and the ownership of diesel trucks significantly more expensive, and thereby promotes the transition to zero-emission vehicles,"

he said.

According to Sarv, there are currently no more emission-free options in common use besides trucks with electric motors and biomethane. CNG or LNG trucks using biomethane are also considered emission-free (in terms of fuel life cycle), because biomethane is produced from renewable sources and it prevents the harmful greenhouse gas methane from leaking into the atmosphere, with even negative CO2 emissions.

"Technically, hydrogen trucks are also emission-free, but they are mostly still prototypes that are not mass-produced and cost almost 5 times more expensive than diesel trucks,"

he said.

He stated that electric and hydrogen trucks are also not zero-emission if they use fossil electricity or hydrogen made from fossil natural gas, therefore it is important to pay attention to the use of electricity produced from renewable sources (sun, wind, water) in electric trucks, in which case it can be said that such energy during use, CO2 is not added to the atmosphere, as is caused by fossil fuels.

"It is clear that today's diesel trucks must be replaced by trucks with other energy carriers. Our goal is to focus on the prevention of carbon emissions, which is why we plan to make a decision in 2024 on how and with which energy carrier to move forward with trucks. At the same time, we are also waiting for technological innovations from the manufacturers and a next-generation truck with a longer driving range and faster charging time,"

said Kirss.

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