Trucks running on e-fuels such as HVO set to cost more to run than BEV trucks

By 2035, buying and running a new long-haul diesel truck with pure e-diesel would cost 47% more than buying and operating a battery-electric truck (BET), according to a study by environmental group Transport & Environment. This is because the lower energy and maintenance costs of a battery-electric truck quickly offset its higher purchasing costs. Meanwhile, vehicles running on e-fuels would be significantly more expensive due to the high cost of a litre of e-fuel, the report found.

HVO is an example of an e-fuel, a synthetic fuel created by treating fats or vegetable oils with hydrogen, transforming them into synthetic fuel. The study compares the price of e-fuels in various scenarios, and even in the most optimistic scenario, e-fuels are still 15% more expensive than battery-electric trucks. This scenario envisages using e-fuels in a second-hand truck, and comparing a BET with high battery and recharging costs.

Max Molliere, e-mobility data analyst at T&E, said: "Cost is a huge consideration for road freight companies, which is why battery-electric trucks are the way forward. E-fuels are a desperate attempt by the fuels industry to throw themselves a lifeline at the expense of hauliers operating on thin margins. Why force expensive e-fuels upon them when there is a cleaner and cheaper solution at their fingertips?

Europe recently announced it will not use e-fuels in cars for good reason, so let's put trucks on the same path." In a typical case, a truck powered by e-diesel would emit close to three times more GHG emissions over its lifetime than a BET charged with average grid electricity, according to the report. Transport & Environment cites a study by Concawe, the oil industry's research group, which modelled that European production of e-fuels for road transport would reach 6Mtoe in 2035.

This would meet only 6% of trucks' fuel demand in 2035. It also cites a report from the Hydrogen Council projecting that by 2050 the only fuels derived from hydrogen imported in Europe will be synthetic kerosene and ammonia. For that reason, T&E concludes that the supply of e-fuels for trucks and cars would be very limited.

"If those 6 Mtoe of e-fuels are to be used in trucks, the amount left for aviation and shipping would be insufficient for the decarbonisation of these two sectors, where other technologies such as electric and hydrogen ships and planes are not feasible nor scalable," says T&E. Ahead of the European Commission's plans to revise the CO2 standards for trucks at the end of 2022, T&E calls for giving no role to fuels in regulating new vehicle sales and ending the sale of all new freight trucks with combustion engines by 2035. The study is available via the link below:

Transport Engineer

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