5 things about e-mobility and heavy vehicles

The majority of the world’s vehicles currently rely on internal combustion engines fueled by diesel or petrol. As a result, these generate significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, which exacerbate global warming, as well as generating other forms of pollution, including NOx emissions and particulates, which can be harmful to health. While there have been well-publicized advances in the electrification of passenger cars, heavy vehicles like trucks, buses, industrial vehicles and marine vessels can also benefit from electrification.


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1. Transport is responsible for 30% of global emissions

Vehicles which transport people, goods and raw materials account for over 25% of the world’s total energy consumption and they are responsible for almost 30% of global CO2 emissions. About one quarter of these emissions come from heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.

2. Electrification improves efficiency

Electric powertrains are more efficient than petrol or diesel driven powertrains and they do not generate any CO2 emissions. A modern electric powertrain for a heavy vehicle like a bus or train will include a traction inverter and electric motors. Electric motors can typically reach 95% efficiency, which makes them much more efficient than either petrol or diesel motors. In addition, traction inverters significantly reduce losses in the traction chain because they control the speed and torque of the electric motors directly, rather than using clutches or gears, which lose energy through friction and heat.

3. The technology is proven

The electric powertrain technology needed for heavy vehicles is mature and proven – it is already widely used in buses, trolley-buses and trains, for example. Electrification of these types of vehicles has demonstrated clear improvements in efficiency, while also reducing emissions and operating costs.

4. Heavy industrial vehicles can also be electrified

Specially designed heavy-duty electric powertrain components are already available for use in heavy industrial vehicles like trucks, excavators and mining machines. These can use battery power or overhead catenary power lines, as well as hybrid diesel-electric systems. Electric propulsion systems are also available for small to mid-size marine vessels, while for larger vessels, alternative fuels and power storage systems are under development for hybrid electrical propulsion.

5. Electrically powered vehicles can be more productive

Not only are electric powertrains are more efficient than mechanical powertrains, they also deliver power to the wheels more efficiently. This is a benefit for vehicles that haul heavy loads and it can improve productivity, as well as efficiency – simply put, each unit of energy does more useful work per tonne.

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