Massive Electric Semi Truck Subsidies

There are huge subsidies for electric semi trucks and several major places like California are requiring 30% of all new tractor-trailer sales by 2030 be electric trucks.

I have a detailed shopping guide comparing the price and main capabilities of all class 8 electric trucks on the market in the USA. I also cover some of the class 6 and 7 electric trucks. The economic advantage that electric trucks have over diesel is the fuel costs ($80k-100k/year for 100k miles/year for diesel versus $17k/year for 100k miles/year).

Tesla Semi Free in California and New York Without Price Increases

If Tesla does not raise the $180,000 price of the Tesla Semi then the $185,000 New York subsidy and the $40,000 US subsidy would make it free. The $120,000 California subsidy with a 15% kicker for fleets of ten or less plus the US subsidy would also make it virtually free. The Tesla Semi still must be in the application process but it is clear that California and New York will include Tesla in their electric truck programs.

California requires sales of new electric trucks and semis. By 2025, 11% of new rigid trucks heavier than 6.3 tonnes must be zero-emission. The targets for this vehicle segment increase to 50% by 2030 and 75% by 2035. The targets for new zero-emission tractor-trailers are 7%, 30%, and 40% by 2025, 2030, and 2035.

New York offers up to a $185,000 for electric trucks. The California and New York subsidy programs can also adjust the subsidies based upon truck fleet owner size of fleet. California offering 15% more subsidy for ten or smaller truck fleets and 50% less for owners of 500+ truck fleets.

The US government is offering $40,000 subsidies for electric semi trucks for purchases from 2023-2032.

There have been several high-profile deliveries of electric semi-trucks. The purchase price has been hidden and secret. The Port of Oakland recently acquired 10 Peterbilt 579EVs at a cost of $US5.1 million. If this represents the true upfront purchase price – not including a maintenance contract, for example – it would translate to $US510,000 per semi-truck. In 2020, Lion Electric received a $US20 million order for 50 8T electric trucks, working out to $US400,000 per truck. Tesla has been advertising a mind-bogglingly low price of $US180,000 for the just delivered 500-mile electric semi. Peterbilt 579EVs have a range of 150 miles. Nikola Tre is advertised at a price of about $300,000.

Tesla Semi Better Today Than What Was Expected in 2030

A 60-page report on electric heavy and Semi trucks for China, Europe and the World talks about unsubsidized breakeven with diesel trucks in 2030. However, the range for battery pack size in the report is inferior to the pack sizes and range of the Tesla 300 mile Semi (510 kwh, 500 kilometer) and Tesla 500 mile Semi (900 kWh, 800 kilometer).

This goes to ten-year plus lead in technology shown by Tesla a few weeks ago.

21 thoughts on “Massive Electric Semi Truck Subsidies”

  1. I wonder what the reasons are behind not building a truck with a low slung battery pack, and a second module space behind the cab populated by either a battery pack, or range extender genset (in various flavors from classic multifuel diesel, multifuel microturbine, to fuel cells). Deals with some of the range anxiety and local infrastructure issues regarding battery recharging to an extent, and represents a transition vehicle with most of the good aspects of an EV prepositioned, and ready for retrofit to all EV when the time comes. Also makes for a handy secondary market for gensets. Imagine something similar to construction site gensets, containerized and prepackaged for easy hookup to an EV truck chassis or a fixed site.

  2. A Tesla Model S Plaid has a range of around 500 miles, the battery weighs approx 25% of the cars mass at 550kgs (2100kgs for the whole car).

    So a semi truck/trailer here in Australia can legally carry 42.5 tonne for a single trailer, trucks with multiple trailers can be up to 120 tonnes. Anyway assume a single trailer at 42.5t, the tare weight is around 20t so it can carry up to 22.5t. They can carry enough fuel for up to 2000km.

    Remove the engine, transmission and fuel tanks at around 4t, that reduces the mass to around 38.5t, add on another tonne for electric motors etc and you have an unladen mass at around 17t.

    Now if you still want to carry 22.5 tonne and the truck masses at 17t total 39.5t you will need approx 25% of that as batteries which is around 10t, the truck mass is then 49.5t, way too heavy for the roads, so you have to reduce your payload from 22.5t to 12.5t, in other words you lose almost half your payload capacity. That will not be economically viable for many companies, transport rates would have to increase by double. I know that there’s reduced fuel costs etc but they aren’t nearly enough to cover the reduced payload. Plus as tax revenue form diesel fuel drops governments will place taxes on truck charging to replace the lost income.

    Even worse, Melbourne/Sydney run is around 500miles, the drivers have 12 hours driving time to do it, they normally take about an hours break overall on the trip, sleep/rest then return, they run to strict schedules, there will be many hundreds of trucks at any given time wanting to recharge, this will use massive amounts of energy, the infrastructure just isn’t there, mains supplies to entire areas will have to be upgraded.

    Electric trucks may be ok in cities and suburbs but they will not be running interstate for a long time if ever.

  3. The emission consumption saving by electrifying trucks are huge while the number of vehicles is small so it makes perfect sense to heavily subsidize them. The fear should be that people that need a sedan will buy a semi instead so the subisdies will go down by much very quickly. Still taking into acount that the gasoline consumption savings from electrifying trucks are much bigger than small EV’s as the lenght of the mileage driven is many times higher. All in all truck electrification is bound to move much faster than small EV’s, with much bigger emission savings just like bus electrificication already does.

    • In much of the midwest coal is the leading source of electricity generation. Subsidizing switching from diesel to coal may not be the best policy.

  4. Pepis Co is already complaining that when fully loaded with soda, their tesla trucks are getting about 180 mile range.. That my friends is laughable. And the fantasy of all of this is mind blowing

  5. Is IceMan the story teller? Never seen so many replies to one’s self. The moral of the story is the exact same thing my economics teacher in high school taught us on the very first day. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

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