Nextbigfuture has all the details of the truck costs (energy and maintenance) in order to address arguments against a transition over time from diesel trucks to electric semi trucks. This is one of the articles going over the information.
An OTR Trucker Claim
A person who claims to be trucker in the comments says:
All I know is I have been an OTR trucker for 50 years. I have driven over 5,000,000 miles in that time. Some short haul…mostly long haul. There is no way an electric truck will favorably compare to my diesel units. My last CAT diesel went 1,915,000 before it’s first overhaul at a cost of $13,000 USD. I would bet the cost of batteries for an electric truck would be triple that number. Impossible to justify and still turn a small profit.
NOTE: I have said before that the current Tesla Semi truck and the current lack of existing megachargers means that the Tesla Semi and other electric trucks are targeting about 60% of the class 8 truck driving situations. There needs to be the deployment of megapacks and megachargers and new electric truck stops and initially on-site charging stations like Pepsi is installing for their first 26-100 electric trucks. The range of electric class 8 trucks will improve and the charging system will be deployed at about 1000+ locations in 2023, 5000 locations in 2024 etc… The top range of the Tesla Semi will increase over time, perhaps about 10% increase in range every 2 years or so.
Diesel truck drivers get about 6 miles per gallon. This person would have used 833k gallons of diesel to drive 5 million miles.
Diesel is currently $4.1-$5.6 per gallon in the USA.
100k miles per year is 16.6k gallons per year. This is about $80k per year in fuel.
The 500-mile range Tesla semi would need $17k/year in electricity at an average 10 cents per kWh wholesale price. Your CAT diesel went 1.9 million miles. Lets call it 2 million miles for easier calc. $1.6 million in fuel. Batteries are dropping in price by about 10% per year.
If you get a Tesla semi and assume 1 million miles before a battery change.
Tesla Semi – $250k less $40k federal tax credit (less $132k for California tax credit or $180k for NY tax credit). Lets assume you don’t get the state credit. $210k.
Over 10 years, $170k of electricity versus $800k of diesel.
$380k vs $800k
Add a $100 per kWh battery change for a 900kWh battery. $90k. The battery prices in ten years should easily be $50-60 per kWh. The battery replacement could be only $50k.
$470k vs $800k assuming a more expensive battery change.
Repeat for next decade, but the next battery change would be at half the cost.
Regen braking on downhill means no risk of break failure. 24% of Semi accidents are brake-related. Lowers insurance cost (biggest cost after fuel, driver).
There will need to be megacharging stations built over the next 2-4 years to make it easy for the early adopter long-haul trucker to quickly charge. It will take 8-15 years for the infrastructure for a full conversion of electric semi trucks. A fast 2 megawatt charge can be about as fast as a diesel refueling. More depends upon having enough electric chargers to reduce lines (queues). There are lines at diesel fuel truck stops. too. Having a fully charged 500 mile vehicle at the start of they day and then getting one charge after 8 hours of 60 mph driving would add 400 miles of range in about 30 minutes. There could be more driving with a team driver but there would have to be another available megacharger to add another 400 miles.
In about 4 years, the range can increase from 530 miles to 650 miles or even 800 miles in a single full charge and there will be substantial charging networks.
Maintenance of Semi Trucks
NOTE: The all-electric Tesla Semi eliminates the conventional clutch and gears of traditional big-rigs. There is no exhaust and fuel system. Those are significant maintenance costs. Hertz has a fleet of Tesla passnenger cars for rent. Hertz says the maintenance is appreciably lower on electric vehicles. We’re seeing it 40-50% lower maintenance cost.
According to TruckersReport, semi-truck maintenance and repair costs can cost owner-operators upwards of $15,000 per year. This is reported at Schneider owner operators.
1. Preventive maintenance intervals.
As an owner-operator, preventative maintenance will be both your most common maintenance expense and a key player in avoiding more costly repairs and breakdowns. There are a few types of preventive maintenance visits you should know about as a owner-operator truck driver:
Dry preventive maintenance
Most carriers and manufacturers recommend scheduling dry preventive maintenance – or “PM A” – every 10,000 to 25,000 miles.
Cost of dry preventive maintenance
Prices will vary by service center, but generally speaking you can expect to spend around $80 to $100 on a dry preventive maintenance visit.
Wet preventive maintenance
The average interval for a wet preventive maintenance visit – or “PM B” – is about every 25,000 miles, but many newer trucks can go up to 50,000 miles between oil changes with proper care.
Wet maintenance services typically include:
Oil and filter change.
Inspection of major components.
Fluid refill (coolant, brake fluid, windshield fluid, etc.).
Tire pressure check.
A wet preventive maintenance appointment usually takes about three-and-a-half hours if no additional repair needs are identified during the inspection.
Cost of wet preventive maintenance
Prices will vary by service center, but Pilot and Flying J centers charge around $300 to $450 for a wet preventive maintenance appointment.
DOT truck inspections
Annual DOT inspections are required for all semi-trucks. The DOT-standard inspection takes about an hour and covers more than 50 vehicle components.
Some general areas covered during the inspection include:
Exhaust system and fuel system.
Securement of cargo.
Frame and suspension.
Tires, wheels and rims.
Lighting and turn signals.
Cost of truck inspections
The cost of getting a DOT inspection depends on where you get yours done, but fees can run upwards of $200 in some areas of the U.S. Owner-operators who do business with Schneider receive a full DOT-standard truck inspection every 90 days at no cost.
2. Unexpected repairs and breakdowns.
No amount of preventive maintenance can guarantee you won’t run into unexpected repairs or breakdowns. Part of running a successful trucking business is being financially prepared for those instances.
Typically, some of the most expensive truck repairs include:
Clutch system (averages $1,000 to replace).
Cooling system (averages $704 to replace).
Charging system (averages $676 to replace).
Cost of unexpected repairs and breaks
According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, the average cost of a mechanical repair for truckload carriers is $411.
3. Tire replacements.
According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), commercial truck tires cost an average of 4.3 cents per mile, or 3% of an owner-operator’s total operating expenses. With the average semi-truck tire priced over $250, tire expenses for an owner-operator can exceed $4,000 annually.
According to Service Tire Truck Centers, most experts agree that semi-truck tire replacement should occur every three to six years.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.