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Pike Research forecasts global hybrid medium- and heavy-duty truck sales to surpass 100,000 vehicles annually by 2017; about 2.1% of total MD/HD sales

MD/HD HEV Truck Sales as percentage of ICE trucks, World Markets: 2011 and, 2017. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge.

A new report from Pike Research forecasts that sales of medium- and heavy-duty (MD/HD) hybrid trucks—including hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery electric (BEV), and plug-in electric power take-off (EPTO) variations—will surpass 100,000 vehicles annually by 2017.

The global truck market is about 3.7 million vehicles in 2011 and is expected to grow at a rate of 4.1% annually to reach 4.7 million by 2017. In the United States, trucks represent approximately 13% of the total fleet market (in number of vehicles). Overall, Pike Research forecasts that the market for hybrid and plug-in trucks will grow at an annual rate of 47.2% between 2011 and 2017 to reach 100,746 trucks, or about 2.1% of global sales. The Asia Pacific market, spurred on by governmental economic development activities, will be the largest market with 41,657 HEV/PHEV/BEV trucks sold in 2017, followed by North America with 25,952 vehicles.

The truck market has experienced seismic changes in the last few years. 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.

—senior analyst Dave Hurst

However, Hurst adds that the primary challenge facing the hybrid truck market remains the cost of the system. 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. While the typical operating cost of a diesel vehicle is significantly higher than that of other drivetrains ($0.72/mile for diesel versus $0.60/mile for hybrid and $0.22/mile for BEV trucks), Pike Research’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 Research’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 type of system chosen will depend heavily on the drive cycle of the vehicle and how it will be used. As a result, the performance of specific economic sectors will play a big role in the growth of electric drivetrains for trucks, the report suggests.

For example, as the retail industry rebounds, pick-up and delivery vehicle sales will rebound with it. This will have a positive impact on the HEV, PHEV, and BEV truck market, too. Other industries that are key to the electric drivetrain include the refuse market, since hybrids are well-suited to the stop and go drive cycle, with the utility truck market taking advantage of EPTOs to reduce emissions during stationary work, along with ports and railyards, which are a massive intersection for a variety of different sources of mobile emissions, according to Pike.

Pike Research’s report, “Hybrid Medium and Heavy Duty Trucks”, examines the opportunities and challenges in the market for hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric medium and heavy-duty trucks. The report provides an assessment of the different drivetrains, battery technologies, and key drivers of market growth. The report also explores global government regulations regarding diesel emissions and vehicle purchase incentives and includes detailed forecasts through 2017.


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