Green Trucking: The Future of the Freight Industry

Green trucking could seriously reduce pollution caused by the freight industry.

Green vehicles are known for better gas mileage and reduced emissions, but they aren’t exactly known to have great towing capacity. This is why energy efficient technology has had difficulty making an impact on the trucking industry. With recent strides in technology, however, this is changing.

And, without a doubt, change is needed. Unlike passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks can stay on the road for over a decade, and diesel engines produce a high amount of emissions.  Worse, highway traffic is higher today than it has ever been in history. An alarming amount of pollution is generated over the lifespan of a single freight truck.

The first hybrid and electric trucks are rolling out across the world, and it could be the start of a great shift towards green technology. Recent headlines show that the trucking industry is starting to take advantage of the benefits of eco-friendly vehicles. Companies like Tesla, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz are introducing eco-friendly trucks to the market, and they are starting to have an impact on the industry.


Tesla Reveals Plans for Electric Semi-trucks

Last year, Elon Musk revealed his plans to begin manufacturing electric semi-trucks, in a project titled “Tesla Semi”. He stated that the project will “deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport.” While the upfront cost of this vehicle will be higher than modern diesel trucks, it will offer substantial fuel savings. If Tesla can produce an economically viable heavy-duty electric truck, it will transform the industry.

A shift towards an all-electric truck may seem like a radical move, but it could be a boon. Considering the fact that the stability of the U.S. economy relies on the trucking industry, and the impact of increasing emissions regulations, an electric alternative could help protect the nation’s way of life.

Last month, Musk reaffirmed that the project is well underway. The project is being spearheaded by Jerome Guillen, a former engineer of Daimler and acting VP of Tesla. Since the company is currently preoccupied with work on the Model 3, this project is still in an early stage of development. Critics speculate that an electric semi-truck would not be feasible, but engineers have theorized that it is a real possibility.

Volvo is Creating Hybrid Mack Trucks


Swedish manufacturer Volvo Trucks will be producing hybrid Mack trucks that could produce 30% less CO2 emissions than comparable diesel models. Chief executive Claes Nilsson stated that “as society moves… towards renewable energy, we strongly believe that electromobility and hybrid technology will become increasingly important.”  As a result, they have produced “Volvo Concept Trucks”: the product of a research project involving both Swedish energy authorities and the U.S. Department of energy.

The hybrid powertrain could be the perfect compromise between energy efficiency and power. In addition to lower pollution, the new hybrid system offers fuel savings of up to ten percent. It does this through I-See, a driver-assist system that analyzes topography through digital maps and GPS data. This software can determine how to maximize fuel efficiency and determine the best time to recover energy. This innovative system could change how hybrids work in the future, and will likely be an attractive feature to freight companies.

Mercedes-Benz is Testing Electric Delivery Trucks

mercMuch further along in development, Mercedes-Benz announced last month that electric trucks will be hitting roads in Germany this year. The automaker seeks to dispel the myth that electric vehicles cannot handle heavy-duty tasks. The new electric trucks are called “Urban eTrucks”, and are intended for inner-city deliveries. They can carry nearly 60,000 pounds of cargo and have a range of nearly 125 miles — more than enough to complete a day’s work of delivery within cities. If this range is insufficient for a business’s needs, additional battery packs can be added to bolster the range.

For a trial period, 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs, and logistics sectors in Germany will be receiving electric trucks. While these vehicles will obviously not replace heavy-duty freight trucks, they have the potential to reduce pollution typically caused by these deliveries. Mercedes-Benz aims to make Urban eTrucks openly available for purchase by 2020.

Green trucking could seriously reduce pollution caused by the freight industry. While eco-conscious consumers have been seeking out ways to reduce their impact on the environment, these recent developments mean that businesses will soon have similar options. While time will tell if these developments will make a serious impact, the prospects are promising. If the industry embraces eco-friendly technology, excessive pollution could be eliminated.

Devin Morrissey is the author of this article.


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