Scania is betting on electric trucks to achieve net zero transition

Truck maker Scania said hydrogen is unlikely to play a major role in the European heavy truck sector’s shift towards greener technologies – thanks in large part to the unexpected impact of upcoming EU regulations on driver safety.

It was widely assumed throughout the transportation industry that hydrogen fuel cells or green fuels such as ammonia could fill the “fuel gap” until batteries became sufficiently efficient and light enough for long-distance transportation. The focus on hydrogen trucks has prompted environmental critics to warn that expanding use of these fuels will benefit the oil and gas industry.

But now Scania says it expects to jump from diesel straight to battery power after radical improvements in battery life and cost. Meanwhile, an unrelated safety rule has been introduced in the European Union that says truck drivers must take a 45-minute break after spending 4.5 hours at the wheel, providing an unexpected boost to plans to develop an electric truck charging network across the continent.

The company believes it will soon be able to deploy truck batteries capable of fully charging during those precious 45 minutes while the driver goes on vacation.

Camilla Dion, Head of Sustainability at Scania, said: Green business Batteries have been improving so rapidly that the latest version in production can run for 1.5 million kilometres, which is longer than the lifespan of the car itself. “There should be no concerns about range anxiety,” she said.

A previous scenario the company explored suggested moving to fuel cells, but Dionne said batteries are more efficient, with fuel cells losing 75 percent of energy overall, while batteries lose only 25 percent. The company said it is now cooperating with other truck companies such as Volvo, Mercedes/Daimler and DAF to supply 1,700 charging stations across Europe.

Scania expects to sell 50 per cent of battery trucks in the EU by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040 – although there is certainly pressure to tighten these targets as they only refer to new vehicles, and the average age of a truck is about 10 years down the road.

The sector is certainly under pressure to clean up faster. A recent report from the Carbon Tracker Research Center said that manufacturers are failing to deliver electric trucks at a rate that matches climate change goals and upcoming regulations.

It said that to align with the IEA’s net-zero emissions scenario, more than 13 million zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) would need to be deployed globally by 2035. But in 2023, with less than 10 years to go, less than had been produced. 100,000 new zero-emission HDVs, representing less than 2% of global HDV production.

Scania is among a growing group of companies looking to change that, and is convinced that electric trucks will dominate the market.

Roger Harrabin is a former BBC correspondent. It can be found on X at @rharrabin.


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