There have been so many studies done to really find out which one is better – the electric-powered or the diesel-powered truck. Several factors have been considered before the researchers finally found the answer. But then again, while some sectors agree with the findings, there are also those that disagree based on their own assessment. Whichever side of the road you’re on, let’s listen to what the experts have to say.

Nevertheless, you may do your own investigation, taking opinions from insiders in the trucking business like experienced drivers and heavy-duty vehicle operators, and so on. Or else, try to simply pose as a prospective buyer looking for Freightliner semi trucks for sale. And once you’re convinced which one is better, go for it.

Comparing Electric and Diesel Engines

Factors such as how the semis are going to be used, how often they stop and start, how much the average speeds are, as well as what the source is for charging batteries are considered in a study conducted by a reputable technological institution in Atlanta, Georgia. Their findings were reported in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology. Below are some of the significant findings:

  1. Trucks with electric engines are better for city driving while those with diesel engines perform better driving outside the city.
  2. Electric vehicles have reduced greenhouse emissions than diesel vehicles.
  3. Electric trucks had lower fuel costs than diesel trucks.

City driving vis-a-vis suburban driving

The study pointed out that the electric vehicles outperformed the diesel trucks in urban driving where the former had lots of stop-and-start-driving. Showing approximately 50% more efficiency in operations, electric vehicles become more effective when they are often stopped and started. This is attributed to the fact that the electric motor is more capable at low speeds while the regenerative braking systems used in electric trucks contribute to the efficiency.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Undoubtedly, most road freight and heavy trucks we have today run on biofuels or fossil fuels that are considered bad for the environment. Diesel engines can be designed to become clean and more efficient; however, the process entails an expensive investment.

For electric vehicles operating in the northwest United States, their electricity comes from hydroelectric sources and were found to have a dramatic decline in greenhouse gas emissions. On the contrary, trucks using electricity produced from coal sources exhibited higher emissions. Generally, in half of the states around the US, the electric vehicles slashed greenhouse emissions by 1/3 in contrast to diesel trucks.

Fuel costs

Let’s face it, the initial purchase price of electric trucks is higher and yet, over the entire lifespan of this kind of vehicle, there have been many instances observed that the sum total of an electric vehicle operation is cheaper than that of a diesel vehicle. 

What’s more surprising is that savings on money and benefits to the environment were noted when electric trucks drive in urban settings as well as in places with moderately low greenhouse gas emissions coming from the electricity.

Experts further state that discounting the costs of fuel and the vehicle itself, vehicles powered by electricity still have more advantages, not just those cited above. With the right drive or duty cycle application, truck operators are sure to reap higher ROI, not only saving money and lowering gas emissions.