Truckspotters who want to get a sneak peek at the latest development in electric truck technology can head over to Norway, where Scania is pilot testing a new limestone hauler. It’s not the biggest electric truck in the world, but if all goes according to plan, it will help accelerate decarbonization in the heavy-duty truck market by demonstrating the road-worthiness of new battery-powered technology.
What Is The Biggest Electric Truck In The World?
The electric truck field has some catching up to do, but truck makers are closing in on a ton-for-ton matchup between battery-electric power and diesel fuel.
The “Beast of Belarus” ultra-class dumper, for example, is billed as the biggest truck in the world at 360 tons (about 326 metric tonnes). It can hit the 800-ton mark when fully loaded, but it is reported to suck up 1,300 liters (about 343 gallons) of diesel fuel every 60 miles.
The biggest electric truck doesn’t quite hit that mark, but it comes within range. In January, CleanTechnica’s David Waterworth reported that Fortescue Future Industries is laying plans for a 240-tonne electric truck for use in mining. The company also appears to be a big fan of regenerative braking. Depending on the circumstances, regenerative braking would enable an electric truck to recharge partly or completely on-the-go, raising the potential for surpassing the 240-tonne bar.
The Biggest Electric Truck In Norway
Though Scania’s new electric truck is much smaller, it could have an outsized impact on the electrification movement.
The company has already established a track record for electrification in Norway, where it has more than 100 electric trucks on the road in Norway. The new model represents a step up. As described by Scania, it is the first of its kind and is apparently still in semi-stealth mode.
“The truck, a P 45 with three axles and 300 kWh battery capacity, is part of Scania’s Pilot Partner programme — a collaboration with selected customers on electric transport solutions not yet introduced on the market,” Scania explains.
“Scania already has a number of heavy vehicles with different development solutions ongoing, but this is the first one we are putting into operation in Norway,” emphasized Scania’s Pilot Partner director, Tony Sandberg.
Scania lists the new electric truck at 31 tonnes total weight and a technical gross weight of 74 tonnes, with a gross weight of 66 tonnes indicated for the pilot test. The truck will go to work at the Verdalskalk limestone quarry in Verdal, Norway. It is expected to give a zero-emission ride to about 120,000 tonnes of stone per year, along a 20-kilometer route to a nearby port. The truck will be recharged and serviced at Verdalskalk’s port facility.
Mack To Make More Electric Trucks
In another sign that the trucking world is ready for its zero emission closeup, last week the iconic US truck manufacturer Mack Trucks (part of Volvo Group since 2000) introduced its first medium-duty electric truck, the new Mack® MD Electric.
The new MD Electric is a big deal for Mack. So far, the company has confined its electrification efforts to Class 8 urban waste hauling operations, where regenerative braking is a perfect match with frequent stops. The new MD Electric is a configurable Class 6-7 that can handle tight city streets and hit the open road, too.
Mack already laid the groundwork for highway travel last fall, when it hooked up with Pilot Company to install EV charging stations at Pilot and Flying J travel centers in North America.
The MD Electric won’t push out Mack’s diesel-powered Class 6-7 MD truck, which the company introduced in 2020. At least, not yet. Mack anticipates that the instant popularity of the diesel version will help build name recognition and encourage truck buyers to adopt its electric counterpart when available, which should be soon. Mack plans to manufacture the new electric truck at its Roanoke Valley Operations facility in Virginia, where it also makes the diesel MD.
“Building on the success of the diesel-powered Mack MD Series, the Mack MD Electric will help our customers meet their sustainability goals without sacrificing the durability, reliability and total cost of ownership for which Mack is known,” explains Jonathan Randall, the president of Mack Trucks North America.
Sustainability or not, the regenerative braking feature of the MD Electric could also help tip the scales for truck buyers looking to save money on fuel.
Woke Or Not, Virginia Will Make Electric Trucks — Or Not
Hopefully Mack’s electric truck plans won’t run afoul of Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Governor Youngkin has aligned himself with the movement against ESG (environment, social, governance) investing, which is somewhat ironic considering that he is the former co-head of the ESG cheerleader and leading global investment firm Carlyle Group.
“While sustainable growth looks different for each company, one thing remains the same — management teams that integrate ESG factors with rigor and nuance build businesses that create more sustainable long-term value,” Carlyle Group explains.
Youngkin also recently made headlines for naysaying plans for a new Ford EV battery factory in Virginia, which Michigan promptly scooped up last month. Youngkin blamed it all on Ford’s relationship with the leading Chinese battery manufacturer CATL, even though CATL will not have a hands-on role at the factory.
CATL could still have a hand in Virginia, despite the huffing and puffing from the governor’s office. Mack has stated that its new MD Electric will be powered by nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) lithium-ion battery technology. Ford plans to deploy CATL’s technical assistance to manufacture both NMC batteries and the new LFP (lithium iron phosphate) formula at its forthcoming plant in Michigan.
If you have any thoughts about CATL technology making its way over to Roanoke some day, drop us a note in the comment thread. Don’t get distracted by the 2019 deal between CATL and Volvo Car Group, though. The Car Group is owned separately by the Chinese firm Geely. It is not affiliated with The Volvo Group, which makes trucks and construction equipment.
The issue could be moot within a few years as the EV industry shifts into LFP technology … or maybe not. Our friends over at Markets and Markets list CATL as second among the leading global LFP battery firms, topped by BYD of China. Coming in third and fourth are the US firms K2 Energy Solutions and A123 Systems, which is also setting up shop in Michigan. Another Chinese company, Lithium Werks, rounds out the top five.
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Photo: A new 66-tonne electric truck debuts in Norway (photo courtesy of Scania).
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