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How hard would it be to make an electric semi truck

Discussion in 'Future Cars' started by AMPd, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    One of those 18 wheelers, using teslas technology
    If they could start from the ground up and fit maybe 4-5 of the 85kwh batteries with each own having its own charge plug
    dont know if that's possible but what if each battery had it's own charging connector and at truck stops tesla could build its super chargers positioned in a way the truck can park and plug in each battery at the same time.
    The 30-60 minute wait for be perfect for truck drivers

    I don't know much about this, and don't know if this is even possible, basically I'm just day dreaming of a time where these semi trucks would run on electricity instead of fossil fuels
    And boy do they use a lot of fuel, my family owns a trucking company and I know first hand how many gallons of diesel it takes to travel from California to New York as I've made that trip before.
     
  2. alexkiritz

    alexkiritz Member

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    I don't think any company would switch to electric long-haul trucks if they had a range similar to the Model S. At the very least you'd need a megawatt/hr of battery capacity and likely a lot more. You'd also need a few megawatts of power at each charging station which would cost a huge amount of money. I think semi-trucks will unfortunately be the last vehicles to go electric. They're just not going to put a million dollar battery pack in a truck that would normally cost $100k even if it does save a lot on diesel.

    Electric neighborhood trucks do work pretty well though.

    Smith Electric Vehicles, zero emission commercial electric vehicle manufacturer.
     
  3. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    I think you'd need a mini-nuke reactor to generate enough electrical energy for a semi-truck lol . My buddy owns a small dump truck business and he spends $27,000 a month on gas. That's a lot of gas just for a few dump trucks..... can't even imagine what kind of energy semi's with a full load would need...
     
  4. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The problem with an electric powered tractor trailer is the weight of the battery. Every bit of load that isn't cargo is lost revenue (except for a few specialty types of transports like furniture hauling where it's volume rather than weight that's the load). Every jurisdiction has a maximum axle weight that you can't exceed. If you're carrying batteries, you're not carrying cargo. Truck manufacturers go to great lengths to reduce the weight of the vehicle so that cargo can be maximized. Until the batteries and electric motor weigh the same or less than a diesel engine plus fuel, electric tractor trailers won't even be considered.
     
  5. sp4rk

    sp4rk Banned

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    More practical, perhaps, is to move more freight by rail than semis. And the rail would be electric. Ala Europe.

    USA seems to have relegated trains to the stone age, whereas in Europe they are more the future.
     
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  6. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Works well for trains because they don't carry the battery. The North American vehicle and tire manufacturing industries pretty much paid the politicians to scrap rail as much as possible. (The practices of the railroad barons didn't help build the status of railroads with the public either).
     
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  7. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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  8. sp4rk

    sp4rk Banned

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  9. GSP

    GSP Member

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    #9 GSP, Dec 26, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
    Actually the US has the most extensive, advanced, and heavily used rail network in the world. It just is not for passengers. Apparently passengers have generally been a money losing proposition for railroads, ever since there have been railroads.

    GSP

    - - - Updated - - -

    It is a lot easer to make a LNG semi truck

    Better than burning natural gas at a power plant, and using "half" the truck's payload for expensive batteries, fleets can just purchase LNG (liquid natural gas) trucks. They are available directly from the truck manufacturers today. Also CNG (compressed natural gas) trucks are even more available. CNG's shorter range is still useful for work trucks, like cement mixers, utility trucks, etc.

    For my car however, I much prefer burning the natural gas at the power plant and driving a smooth, silent EV.

    GSP
     
  10. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    You guy all make great points, the cost would be pretty high if it were even possible
    But I guess I was just sort of dreaming there, in the moment, after seeing the latest fuel receipts from our truck drivers.

    Natural gas could be a solution, much cleaner than diesel I assume
     
  11. GSP

    GSP Member

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    Natural gas is cleaner burning than Diesel. Production of either fuel is probably not terribly clean.

    The big benefit is that natural gas costs about half as much as Diesel. CNG trucks cost tens of thousands more than Diesel trucks however.

    GSP
     
  12. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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  13. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    The way I see it, natural gas is not a solution
    although it's cleaner and currently there's an abundant supply, I see it like a band aid for a problem. Just like crude oil, it will one day run out, that's why I feel like electric transportation is the future since electricity can be generated through various renewable sources. That's why I'm so excited about what Siemens is trying to do with the electric highway, that is definitely something that will benefit all of us!
    I feel like we're living in somewhat the same age when cars were first beginning production for the general public, you know like the early 1900s vehicles being mass produced, now it's a whole different type of technology and dare I say a whole different car (albeit same concept)
     
  14. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Agreed. In addition, natural gas just trades air pollution (that we sort of know how to deal with) for ground water pollution (that we don't).
     
  15. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    I'm thinking about hybrid trucks, but not hybrid in the gas/electric sense.

    Hybrid, powered by batteries and overhead wires. If you put overhead wires on a few main routes, between cities, and connecting the main ports, cargo terminals, warehouse districts, and distribution centers.
    The truck lane on the main highway between 2 cities would have overhead wires.
    Large cargo carrying trucks would have enough battery for the few miles they have to go when they leave one wire and get to the next wire.
    They would probably only need 5-20 miles worth of battery ( lets pick 20 miles ), and the overhead wires would top up the charge as needed when preparing to leave the wires.
    As a WAG, 20 miles of range on a big rig could be achieved with 40kWh at 1-2 kWh per mile.

    The wires are probably in the ballpark of a million dollars per mile, but if you have 1000s of trucks, each doing 100s of trips per year, the cost per trip goes down very fast.
    I know it sounds like I am describing trains, but there are a few differences:
    1. the roadways can be shared with conventional traffic, dont have to build dedicated rail lines
    2. the trucks have the flexibility to leave the route and pick up/deliver goods within 20 miles anywhere along the route
    3. small and large cargos can operate efficiently
    4. adding new routes is easy, and use existing roadway infrastructure, you just leave one wire - drive a few miles - and connect to another

    Instead of $1 per mile ( 5 mpg at $5 per gallon of diesel ), you'd have 6-12 cents per mile at 1 or 2 kWh per mile. ( 6 cents per kWh industrial prices )
     
  16. sp4rk

    sp4rk Banned

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    Pity then most of them are at grade with cars, unlike Europe. :(
     
  17. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    Basically it would be hard to make an EV 18 wheeler. In practical use 5 kw of batteries is equavalent to a gallon of gas. So a massive 200 kw pack weighing 3000 lbs would yield the same range as 40 gal of gas. With an 18 wheeler getting about 6 mpg that would be a range of 240 miles. Even with super chargers you then have 3 hours to recharge. Not too practical. Now for in-town UPS trucks I can see that working.
     
  18. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    What about doubling the pack?
    Removing the engine, transmission and other unneeded parts would free up some weight
    But yeah I agree, range is an issue, maybe in 10 years with better batteries we'll see electric 18 wheelers!
     
  19. gjunky

    gjunky Waiting for the Model ☰

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    For a semi-truck it probably makes sense to go hybrid like most of the US trains. It is a very efficient power conversion running a diesel generator at a constant speed and running electric motors to actually move the vehicle. This could then be combined with overhead wires as mentioned above in which case it can shut off the generator for part of the journey.

    If we combine the overhead wires with local power generation through something like solar roads:
    http://solarroadways.com/intro.shtml
    then we would cover part of the generation as well. Personally I think a combines approach like this is more doable in the near future then trying to go 100% electric which for a semi-truck doesn't seem feasible quite yet.
     
  20. LakeForest

    LakeForest Member

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    Does anyone know the formulas or where you could find them to find the required energy to make this work? I'm a high school student on winter break right now and have some time to spare. I feel like this could definitely be possible from a physics perspective but it would be difficult to convince fleet operators. Tesla would probably have to use them first to deliver cars to prove reliability/practicality.
     

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