Innovation Keeps On Truckin’ in the Era of Electric Vehicles

(DGIwire) – Compared to their diesel-powered counterparts, electric trucks are much quieter, have no harmful emissions and dramatically lower maintenance. This is a large part of the reason why many truck brands have real electric test units being used now in fleets. Of course, the era of battery-electric trucks rumbling down the nation’s roads may still be just a dream—because, as a recent article in Fleet Owner notes, the charging infrastructure required for such a scenario is not yet in place.

“Very few people have thought about the charging infrastructure that will be required to charge trucks and the effect it will have on the grid,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “It might take one megawatt-hour of energy—the equivalent of a million watts being used for one hour—for a battery-electric truck to haul a load 300 miles before it needs to recharge.”

As Voller told Fleet Owner, electric trucks would need to recharge on the highway along their delivery routes, so there would need to be some way to supply adequate energy to truck stops rather than out-of-the-way charging stations. Furthermore, the industry would require chargers that are much more powerful than the best ones that are today used to recharge electric passenger vehicles—since they would need to deliver that one megawatt-hour of energy to the truck in about an hour. Fleets essentially want the same experience and cost as the diesel vehicles they are using today; trucks simply can’t wait around for half a day to recharge.

ZapGo makes scalable C-Ion batteries as an alternative to lithium-ion technology. The C-Ion batteries can be recharged orders of magnitude more quickly than lithium-ion batteries, Voller noted in the magazine, and don’t overheat and catch fire as lithium-ion batteries can if they are charged very quickly. They also don’t rely on lithium and cobalt that is difficult to dispose of safely.

As reported by Fleet Owner, ZapGo is working with utility companies on a grid storage product that would use large banks of its C-Ion batteries to provide high rates of charging at locations like truck stops. Instead of large underground tanks of diesel fuel, they would involve underground battery banks that could be charged at off-peak times when power is less expensive and available, then deliver that power to trucks as needed. In this way, the grid would be boosted and buffered.

ZapGo is also looking into using parts of an electric vehicle—such as the chassis or body and floor panels—for power storage. This could help circumvent the problem of having to add hundreds of pounds of batteries to power an electric truck, potentially restricting payload, decreasing efficiency and revenue potential.

“With increasing global attention to electric vehicles, and the importance of trucking deliveries to commerce, it is vital that companies and organizations work together to make electric trucks a more viable option,” Voller adds.