Schneider National, Inc.
It could cost fleets $145,000 per heavy-duty truck to build out electric charging infrastructure nationwide, according to Clean Freight Coalition research. The study finds electrifying medium-duty operations more attainable in the near term but questions how the nation could handle mass electrification.

Coalition puts $1 trillion price tag on electrifying U.S. trucking industry

March 20, 2024
It could cost fleets $145,000 per heavy-duty truck to build out electric charging infrastructure nationwide, according to Clean Freight Coalition research. The study finds electrifying medium-duty operations more attainable in the near term but questions how the nation could handle mass electrification.

Electrifying the entire U.S. commercial trucking fleet could cost nearly $1 trillion, according to a new industry-funded study. That merely includes the cost of building out charging infrastructure—not replacing diesel-powered equipment with the more expensive battery-electric, heavy-duty trucks, which aren’t yet able to handle long-haul freight. 

He said the regulatory push to electrify trucking over the next six to 10 years would result in fewer trucks moving freight. “It’s going to come very quick,” he said of consumers feeling the decarbonization pinch. “For an administration that’s concerned about inflation, concerned about the supply chain, they need to take a holistic approach to this. Be transparent. We’re not saying ‘no’ to zero emissions. We just need a path to get there. This is not it.”

Last week, the Biden Administration laid out its National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy, which major vehicle manufacturers supported. It shows how the nation could support medium- and heavy-duty transportation with charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure along major freight corridors. 

The federal strategy, which did not include a price tag, outlines a four-phase approach over the next 16 years. It starts by funding zero-emission freight infrastructure in areas with substantial freight volume and for regional operations. Over time, the ZE infrastructure area would expand and support long-haul operations and Class 8 vehicles. 

See also: Zero-emission regulations threaten supply chains

Trucking continues to focus on improved emissions

Three of the four major trucking OEM parent companies—Daimler, Navistar, and Volvo—recently founded the Powering America’s Commercial Transportation coalition, known as PACT, to educate policymakers and advocate for nationwide commercial ZE fueling infrastructure. 

In response to the Clean Freight Coalition study, Daimler AG’s Ritchie Huang, who serves as PACT board treasurer, told FleetOwner: "PACT did not contribute to this report but welcomes any findings that can provide insights towards the build-out of nationwide infrastructure for M/HD ZEVs. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on these issues."

Mullen, CFC executive director, said he hopes the new study and data help drive deeper conversations and planning with utility companies that could assist the trucking industry in designing a decarbonized future. 

The Clean Freight Coalition is an alliance of truck transportation advocates, such as trucking trade organizations that represent various industry sectors, including carriers, dealers, and truck stop operators. 

“The truck community has long been a good steward and supporter of our environment,” said Jim Ward, president of the Truckload Carriers Association, a founding coalition member. “Who doesn’t want to pass on clean air and clean water to the next generation?”

Ward noted the industry has been tackling the challenges of improving emissions over the past four decades. He said each new emissions-reduction technology for diesel equipment has also pushed costs onto fleets. Ward supported ATA’s push to repeal the Federal Excise Tax, a World War I-era fee that adds 12% to the costs of new heavy-duty trucks. 

ATA has said that repealing this tax would not only make new zero-emission equipment cheaper but also make more environmentally friendly diesel trucks more affordable. In California, for example, more than half of the Class 8 trucks on the road are pre-2010 models, which don’t have the same emissions-reduction technology as today’s Class 8 trucks. 

Ward added that there are still many unknowns about the ROI of commercial EVs, including maintenance challenges and battery disposal. “We’re not here to say no—we do want to be good stewards of the environment,” he said. “But we need to step back, take a look at this thing, involve the stakeholders in this conversation, and figure out what that path is going to look like going forward.”

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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