Electric or synthetic

Electric or synthetic

By 2030, one third of freight transport is to be powered by electricity or synthetic fuels. In addition, the traffic light coalition has announced the introduction of a CO₂ surcharge in the truck toll from 2023 and the inclusion of commercial road haulage from 3.5 tonnes. by Dirk Mewis and Oliver Kröll

Of the approximately 3.4 million trucks in Germany, 3.2 million are still diesel-powered. Yet the contribution that commercial vehicles could make to climate change is enormous; they contribute about one third of the annual CO₂ emissions of the transport sector in the Federal Republic. For this reason, one third of freight transport is to be powered electrically or with synthetic fuels by 2030 and a CO₂ surcharge is to be introduced in the truck toll in 2023. This is intended to increase the pressure on haulage companies to switch to electric mobility. At the same time, the state currently assumes 80 percent of the additional costs when companies switch from diesel commercial vehicles to climate-friendly trucks.

70 percent of freight traffic in Germany is transported by road. To become more climate-friendly, freight transport could run electrically with batteries, explains transport scientist Professor Arnd Stephan from TU Dresden. Another option would be overhead lines, but that would again mean a very large infrastructure build-up. “Or we could do it with alternative fuels, which we would have to produce via electrical engineering. But with all these topics we are at the very beginning at the moment and not in such a way that we will see this on a large scale in ten years’ time,” explains Stephan.

At Daimler, at least 30 percent of newly sold trucks are to be electric by 2030. According to Martin Daum, CEO of Trucks, 60 per cent are also possible, but for this to happen, politicians must set the right course. 40 percent of the total costs of haulage companies depend on fuel. How quickly they switch to e-mobility therefore depends crucially on how the prices for diesel, electricity or synthetic fuels develop.

Daimler’s trucks on the stock exchange

In December last year, Daimler spun off its truck division and floated it on the stock exchange. The founding fathers of the group are not only considered the inventors of the automobile, they also sold the world’s first truck in 1896. For more than a century, cars and trucks were manufactured under one roof and one brand. With the IPO, almost 100,000 employees and around 35 billion euros in sales will now be separated – into an independent group that includes brands such as Freightliner and Fuso in addition to Mercedes-Benz Trucks and which is so large that it will in all likelihood soon be promoted to the leading index, the Dax.

In terms of turnover and sales, the Stuttgart-based company is the world market leader. In contrast to saloons, SUVs and small cars, there are hardly any new rivals from the USA or China in the truck market that would be strong enough to seriously challenge the Germans with new e-models. The semi-truck announced by Tesla years ago is not scheduled for production until 2023.

“We want to continue to lead the way in alternative drives and in automation,” explains Daum. “With our battery-electric and fuel cell-powered trucks, we have already clearly defined what the future will look like.” At the same time, new board member Karin Rådström criticises the Stuttgart-based company for having some catching up to do in the profitable maintenance business. She has already identified a decisive weakness. The German manufacturers are first-class in terms of the product, but not in dealing with their buyers, mostly large haulage companies. In addition, Rådström says, e-trucks must be affordable – and go just as far as diesel trucks. That is why Daimler Truck is investing 500 million euros in a truck charging network together with its rivals Traton and Volvo. Within five years, at least 1,700 charging points powered by green electricity are to be built near motorways and at logistics hubs and unloading points. Of course, this is only “a drop in the ocean”, says Daimler truck boss Daum. His problem: the approval procedures for the required high-voltage lines are extremely lengthy.

E-Innovation made in Switzerland

Previously relatively unnoticed in our latitudes, the Swiss Designwerk Group has been building e-trucks under theFUTURICUMbrand for more than five years. Customers among others: Pretty much every Swiss municipality as well as logistics heavyweights like DPD and the Swiss Post. In September last year, the Swiss even secured the official Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled by an e-truck. A FUTURICUM e-truck from DPD covered an incredible 1,099 kilometres with a 680 kWh battery. And shortly before the turn of the year, the next sensation followed: Futuricum presented the new heavyweight for long-distance transport and use in heavy haulage:

The fully electric tractor unit with over 900 kWh battery capacity can cover up to 500 kilometres fully loaded in the Swiss topography without intermediate charging. All Futuricum e-trucks are based on Volvo Trucks chassis. From tractor units to concrete mixers and municipal vehicles, almost all customer requirements can be realised. Speaking of Volvo: In April 2021, the Volvo Group took over 60 percent of FUTURICUM’s parent company Designwerk Technologies AG. The clearly defined goal: to strengthen competencies in the area of electrified special and niche vehicles.

For more information on FUTURICUM E-LKW, please contact our partner, WGL GmbH, the exclusive FUTURICUM sales partner in Germany.

You can find more articles here in our news overview Picture: Designwerk Group / Futuricum

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