Commercial Electric Trucks to Gain Traction, But Slowly


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Consumers are finally coming around on electric vehicle technology, and the auto industry in the coming decades will look increasingly to battery technology for its future. Many predictions in the past few years have held that commercial applications for electric vehicle technology may also lead the way, but it now appears that electric vehicle adoption for commercial purposes may go slower than expected.

Market research firm Navigant Research today released a new report showing that sales of commercial electric trucks have yet to take off. The firm predicts that only 350,000 hybrid or electric commercial trucks will be sold globally between 2013 and 2020.

While electric vehicle technology could provide cost savings to some commercial fleets, the upfront costs for such trucks are still too large for many business to justify long-term savings. In the short-term, environmental concerns and government incentives could be an important factor in the adoption of commercial electric truck technology.

“Hybrid and electric truck market growth has slowed since 2011,” said Lisa Jerram, senior research analyst at Navigant. “Since then, fleet managers have been learning which routes get the most fuel savings benefit and which don’t offer a fast enough payback to justify the price premium. While interest is picking up again, especially in North America, this market still relies on subsidies to offset substantial price premiums over conventional trucks or even natural gas vehicles.”

Despite low short-term adoption, Navigant believes that the cost analysis for commercial electric vehicles will change somewhat in the coming years. Conventional fuel prices are expected to continue their rise, altering the value proposition for the commercial truck industry.