As the climate crisis looms and its effects become continually more visible, transportation industries and individual truck drivers alike are looking to bring their emissions down to zero to do their part. The main way the industry is trying to accomplish this is through the development of zero-emission trucks that run on electricity and hydrogen.
How Zero-Emissions Fleets Would Change the Industry
Transitioning Away From Fossil Fuels
As crucial it is to the current structure of global supply chains, as the trucking industry is a major source of emissions. According to the EPA, transportation accounts for 29% of emissions in the US, and approximately a quarter of that is from medium- and heavy-duty trucks. While transitioning to zero-emission vehicles presents a difficult challenge, it’s a necessary transition if we’re going to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis. That could mean big changes to the industry.
Fleets may start transitioning to zero-emissions trucks by the end of 2022, and by the end of the decade, they may be primarily or entirely powered by electric trucks. The upfront cost of these vehicles may seem high now, but with increasing subsidies and the improving technology, fleets may soon be saving money by switching.
With this change comes a decrease in operational cost, as the most fragile components of current trucks are the moving parts of gas and diesel engines. Even fueling the vehicles will be cheaper as hydrogen cell technology improves.
Many truck drivers will also be glad to learn that without an internal combustion engine, trips will be much quieter and more pleasant. This will reduce the stress of driving long distances and also improve safety for truck drivers.
Where the Technology Is Now
Manufacturers like Volvo, Ford, and Daimler have been engineering alternative power sources for trucks for years now, and they’ve made great progress. Already there are electric transit and delivery vans that can run for over 100 miles on a single charge. But the type of electric motors that power smaller vehicles doesn’t scale well to Class 7 and 8 trucks. Instead, companies like Daimler are developing electric semis powered by hydrogen cells. In 2021, they debuted a truck that is capable of hauling a 25-ton load for over 600 miles.
Where It’s Going
Development on this new hydrogen-powered truck isn’t complete, and Daimler expects to roll them out for consumer trials in 2023. But this technology seems the most promising route toward curbing emissions in the trucking industry. As others build from this success, and as companies continue to research electric battery and charging technology, the efficiency of these trucks will only increase. Zero-emission long-haul trucking doesn’t seem so far away.
Start your career in trucking off strong by learning from the experts at Hamrick School. For decades we’ve given new truck drivers the knowledge and experience necessary to excel. Call us at (330) 239-2229 to learn about our offerings.
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