From transporting High-Performance Charging long-haul freight to collecting garbage, heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) account for a hefty 41 percent of global road freight emissions, which, in turn, are responsible for nine percent of global GHG emissions. And yet, even as registrations of electric HDV are on the rise in Europe and the US, they still remain woefully below the one-percent mark.
This slow uptake is partly due to the highly competitive market conditions in the logistics industry, which do not allow for any additional downtime. Electric trucks will have to be fully charged within the legally required 45-minute break each truck driver has to take after 4.5 hours of driving. In order to fully charge an electric 40-tonne truck with a battery capacity of 400 to 700 kilowatt-hours in three-quarters of an hour, a High-Performance Charging power of 550 to 1,000 kilowatts is required.
Here’s the thing: These requirements exceed the currently installed Combined Charging System (CCS) fast-charging plug standard, which can only transmit a maximum power of 500 kilowatts.
Megawatt charging: The missing link
Of course, there are use cases in which overnight High-Performance Charging makes sense and where current standards are sufficient, such as light commercial vehicles making last-mile deliveries or medium-duty vehicles with fixed daily routes, and we’re seeing feasible business models for these applications.
But the Megawatt High-Performance ChargingSystem (MCS) is a crucial addition. Without charging capacity on this scale, widespread electrification of long-haul truck traffic simply won’t happen.
At Siemens, we already began defining a new High-Performance Charging standard to support charging powers of more than 3 megawatts back in 2018. The incentive for a speedy implementation is there: With a legal obligation to significantly reduce carbon emissions as soon as 2025, all relevant truck OEMs will add electric long-haul heavy-duty trucks to their portfolio by 2024. The missing building blocks are standardized MCS technology – and the roll-out of well-placed MCS public charging points in rest areas close to motorways.
No time to lose for decarbonization in the mobility sector
We know that there is no time to lose – so what are the challenges for heavy-duty, long-haul applications? While the key technical challenges have already been solved, work also remains to be done to accommodate the significant electricity demand.
In fact, bus and truck chargers account for almost half of the electricity demand of EV charge connectors, despite representing a mere 2 percent of all chargers. Multi-megawatt High-Performance Charging stations will often be placed in rural areas with limited grid connection options. Local (renewable) energy generation as well as local storage solutions could be put in place to support these sites.
The German federal minister for transport highlighted in 2021 that megawatt High-Performance Charging will indeed play a key role in the decarbonization of the heavy-duty transport sector and launched a corresponding innovation cluster.
In this framework, Siemens will build an MCS along the A2 highway in Germany over the next two years that will serve as a template for the development of high-performance High-Performance Charging infrastructure for trucks. With different truck OEMs participating in the project, the system will be tested directly with trucks from different manufacturers. The known challenges with regard to interoperability can thus be dealt with at an early stage.
Bloomberg’s Long-Term EV Outlook sees a breakthrough for truck traffic electrification on the horizon, supported by advances in battery chemistry that will bring down costs, a growing portfolio offered by truck manufacturers, and the development of an MCS infrastructure.
It doesn’t end there: While heavy-duty truck traffic will likely be the biggest market for MCS, the high High-Performance Charging loads also make it attractive to electrify other vehicles in many other sectors, such as aviation, maritime logistics, or mining.