Hybrid sales to trend upwards

Medium and heavy-duty hybrid truck sales should trend upwards and surpass more than 100,000 units sold annually by 2017, according to forecasts by Pike Research

Medium and heavy-duty hybrid truck sales should trend upwards and surpass more than 100,000 units sold annually by 2017, according to forecasts by Pike Research.

“The truck market has experienced seismic changes in the last few years,” said Dave Hurst, a senior analyst with market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. “The global recession has taken a huge toll on medium-duty and heavy-duty truck sales in many regions. As fuel prices have increased, truck manufacturers have responded by expanding their offerings of alternative drivetrains to help reduce emissions and fuel usage by trucks.

“As the global economy begins tentative steps toward recovery, truck manufacturers are looking to technologies that can help mitigate the rising cost of diesel fuel while meeting increasingly strict emissions requirements,” Hurst said.

Trucks that utilize electricity to meet these goals come in four variations: hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and plug-in electric power take-off (EPTO) to operate equipment onboard without using fuel. As the technology costs fall and diesel prices increase, the value proposition for hybrid trucks is strong.

The primary challenge facing the hybrid truck market remains the cost of the system, Hurst added.

“Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) all continue to have higher upfront costs that are significant enough to result in higher total cost of ownership for the vehicles,” he said.

While the typical operating cost of a diesel vehicle is significantly higher than that of other drivetrains ($0.72/mi. for diesel versus $0.60/mi. for hybrid and $0.22/mi. for BEV trucks), Pike’s analysis indicates that the higher purchase cost and low cost of diesel in some markets means that the trucks are not able to recover the incremental costs for the electric drive system in their lifetime. As a result, government incentives and emissions or fuel economy regulations will continue to play a very important role in promoting hybrids and plug-in trucks.

Pike’s analysis further indicates that most HEV, PHEV, and BEV trucks will utilize different chemistries of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. The market intelligence firm expects that the use of nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries will peak in 2016, as vehicle manufacturers move their remaining systems toward Li-ion. The Li-ion market is expected to reach 3.6 million kilowatt hours (kWh) globally in the medium and heavy-duty truck market by 2017.

The report, “Hybrid Medium and Heavy Duty Trucks,” provides a comprehensive assessment of the different drivetrains, battery technologies, and key drivers of market growth. The report explores global government regulations regarding diesel emissions and vehicle purchase incentives and includes detailed forecasts through 2017. Key market players are also profiled.

An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website at http://www.pikeresearch.com.

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