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Opportunities for Electric Commercial Vehicles

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Opportunities for Electric Commercial Vehicles

Apr 3,2023
Commercial Vehicle
Not only cars can be powered by electricity, but also commercial vehicles such as buses, trucks, vans, or vehicles used in agriculture and construction. Electric vehicles are greener, quieter, and more efficient than those with internal combustion engines. However, there are still many challenges to overcome before commercial vehicles can be fully electrified.

The future is about to get even direr: the United Nations estimates that the world's population will grow to 9.8 billion by 2050. They would have to get from point A to point B and get a supply of goods. Farmers will grow more food and buildings will be built. In turn, more commercial vehicles mean more exhaust and more noise. Since around 70% of the population will live in cities in the future, their situation will get worse. As a result, more and more cities may ban internal combustion engine vehicles to protect the environment and the health of citizens.

Their tasks will be taken over by electric buses, trucks, tractors, and excavators. They don't require fossil fuels and don't produce any emissions. We already have some electric commercial vehicles on our roads, and some countries have more than others: China, for example, is leading the way in the use of electric buses. It has realized that the electrification of commercial vehicles offers enormous opportunities and advantages. However, there are also some challenges to overcome.

Commercial Vehicle Electrification

Electric commercial vehicles are powered by electricity rather than diesel or gasoline. They can be buses, vans, trucks, agricultural vehicles such as combines or tractors, and construction machineries such as excavators or wheel loaders. The energy to drive them comes from the onboard battery, which is charged by the grid.

Like electric vehicles, electric motors convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. One of the key components in an electrical system is the DC-DC converter that supplies power to the electrical network. The drive's inverter converts the battery's DC power into the AC power needed to propel the vehicle.

However, electrification issues related to commercial vehicles are not limited to the drive itself. Tools, air conditioning systems as well as superstructures, and accessories can all be electrified. In hybrid models, part of the power used to drive them comes from the internal combustion engine - the electric drive provides extra torque to handle peak loads.

Why Are Electric Commercial Vehicles Important?

Electrification will become increasingly important in the coming years and decades. The climate protection goals set out in the 2016 Paris Agreement are ambitious: all transport will be emission-free by 2050. This means countries around the world must reduce transport-related emissions. Some countries such as the US, Canada, China, Japan, and India have introduced thresholds for commercial vehicles. The European Union is slowly following suit: average CO2 emissions from heavy commercial vehicles will be at least 30% lower than 2019 levels by 2030.

Advantages of Electric Commercial Vehicles

The advantages of electric commercial vehicles are obvious: they do not consume any fossil fuels or emit any CO2 in operation. If their electricity comes from renewable sources, then they are completely clean. There are other benefits: Electric drives consist of fewer parts, especially moving ones. That means fewer breakdowns and fewer repairs - making the vehicle cheaper to run. Since EVs are less complex in design, they can also be made more compact. Another advantage: They produce less noise than vehicles with internal combustion engines. And they're also more efficient -- they accelerate more aggressively, and most of that energy can be recovered through electric braking.

Other components besides the drive can also be powered. In commercial vehicles with an internal combustion engine, the internal combustion engine also drives auxiliary devices such as hydraulic pumps, saws, rotating brushes, balers, lawnmowers, or air conditioning compressors. Its power is related to the speed of the engine. However, the efficiency of auxiliary units can be improved by being driven electrically rather than hydraulically; they can be driven individually and with greater power.

The Challenges of Electric Commercial Vehicles

As it stands, electric buses, trucks, and other commercial vehicles also have disadvantages compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. The price of electric vehicles is still high at present. So far, they can't go as far on a single charge as internal combustion engine cars. Therefore, electric buses are used almost exclusively in cities. Larger batteries are needed to provide greater range.

Charging buses and trucks also takes longer than refueling them -- and the charging infrastructure isn't ideal. While diesel-powered trucks can refuel at any service station, drivers of electric trucks first have to find a suitable charging station and get there.

Commercial vehicles must overcome additional challenges that electric vehicles do not. They're heavier and thus require larger, more powerful batteries to start with. They also have to be more resilient than passenger cars - for example, commercial vehicles used in construction or agriculture are subject to strong vibrations.

Demanding

Stop-and-go is a common problem with electric buses, i.e. they brake and accelerate more often. They also travel farther and longer each day: an average of at least 100 kilometers in ten hours – compared with an average car’s maximum of 50 kilometers in an hour. Thus, a commercial vehicle component has a life cycle of approximately 60,000 hours, while a passenger vehicle component has a life cycle of 8,000 hours. In addition, the total distance traveled by bus over its lifetime is much greater: typically more than 1 million kilometers, compared to only 200,000 kilometers for a car. All factors affecting power electronics on board: Electronics must also be more robust.

The need for comfort also poses difficulties for electric buses: If the battery power is used for heating or air conditioning, their range may be reduced. These models also require more powerful, larger batteries to cope - or innovative solutions to regulating temperature must be found.

Challenges for Charging Technology and Batteries

One of the biggest challenges, especially for electric buses, is charging the batteries: they cannot be driven while they are "refueled". However, they also cannot be out of service for a few hours. The bigger the battery, the farther the bus can travel on a single charge. However, this reduces the passenger capacity of the bus, and the number of seats - and means more weight. However, the heavier the vehicle, the more energy it requires. This is why manufacturers and suppliers are focusing on improving the efficiency of battery and charging technologies.

Another difficulty: There is still no global standard for the systems used to charge electric commercial vehicles. Europe and North America use a different system than China or Japan. Various possibilities are currently being tested and discussed. It's uncertain which system will come out on top. However, each of them places high demands on power semiconductors.

The above introduces some basic information about electric commercial vehicles. If you want to buy electric commercial vehicles, please contact us.

Yitongda is a professional comprehensive service provider for used cars. Its products are mainly exported to more than 30 countries and regions in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Russia, etc., including commercial vehicles, new energy vehicles (pure electric and hybrid), Gas vehicles, excavators, concrete pump trucks, semi-trailers, tractors, dump trucks, graders, loaders, etc.
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