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MIT study concludes V2G-enabled electric commercial trucks could offer lower total operating cost than conventional diesel fleet

A new study by researchers at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), concludes that electric commercial vehicles can cost 9 to 12% less to operate than trucks powered by diesel engines when used to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities and when V2G (vehicle-to-grid) revenue is incorporated.

The CTL study was conducted using data collected by the international office supplier Staples, as well as ISO New England, the nonprofit firm that runs New England’s electric power grid. Using that data, the researchers modeled the costs for a fleet of 250 delivery trucks, and examined alternate scenarios in which the whole fleet used one of three kinds of motors: purely electric engines, hybrid gas-electric engines and conventional diesel engines.

Based on the Staples data, the researchers modeled what would happen if the trucks in the fleet were driven 70 miles a day for 253 work days per year, with diesel gasoline costing $4 per gallon. Trucks with internal-combustion engines averaged 10.14 miles per gallon, compared to 11.56 miles per gallon for hybrid trucks, while the electric-only trucks averaged 0.8 kilowatt-hours per mile. Staples currently has 53 all-electric trucks, manufactured by Missouri-based Smith Electric Vehicles, in use in several American cities.

The study added one new component to the projections often made by industry fleet managers—the researchers looked at what would happen if the fleets of trucks were part of a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system in which their batteries could be plugged into the electricity grid for 12 hours overnight for regulation services. In such a setup, truck owners would be paid by utility firms for the power services they provide.

After running the numbers for various scenarios in which trucks are parked at slightly different times overnight, the MIT team found that businesses could earn roughly $900 to $1,400 per truck per year in V2G revenues in current energy markets, representing a reduction of 7 to 11% in vehicle operating costs. Firms would also save money on fuel, and on maintenance, because electric trucks induce less wear and tear on brakes.

The operational cost per mile would drop from 75 cents per mile to 68 cents per mile when V2G-enabled electric trucks are substituted for internal-combustion trucks. Jarrod Goentzel, director of the Renewable Energy Delivery Project at CTL and one of four co-authors of the new study notes, “almost all these costs scale down to the individual vehicle.” Firms do not need fleets as big as 250 trucks to realize savings.

Another of the paper’s co-authors, Clayton Siegert, a 2009 graduate of the CTL’s master’s of engineering in logistics program and a member of the Renewable Energy Delivery Project, presented the results in January at the IEEE Power and Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference, in Washington. The paper will be published in a volume of the conference’s proceedings. It originated in a thesis project by two researchers who received the master’s of engineering in logistics from CTL in 2011, Andre De Los Rios and Kristen Nordstrom.


  • A. D. Los Rios, J. Goentzel, K. E. Nordstrom, C. W. Siegert. 2012ISGT0236, Economic Analysis of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)-Enabled Fleets Participating in the Regulation Service Market



9-12% is not much, really.
They didn't look at diesel hybrids (electric or hydraulic), only gas hybrids which are not as efficient.

I suppose the V2G could work with a delivery fleet, but I would imagine you need most of the power management in the late afternoon / early evening and early morning, just when people might want to use their trucks.

You would wonder how much it would cost to just train the drivers to drive less aggressively in the vehicles they already have, perhaps giving them some split (say 1/10) of the money saved.


It may be a question of using time to save fuel? With two highly paid driver/helper on board, time saving may be economical. Electrified delivery vehicles will be much cheaper to operate when fuel is $8/gal.


The benefit in this case is being able to reduce or eliminate the burden of regulation at the generators overnight, and operate them purely for lowest cost. To the extent that every watt of charging load can be turned off almost instantaneously, those trucks might also function as spinning reserve (another service receiving yet another payment).


How can one use the spinning reserves when those trunks are on the road, i.e. during most peak power demand hours (06:h - 09h) and 15h - 19h)? There may be a possibility for the 15h to 19h peak in many places. Alternatively, would reversed wireless chargers be used.


When the trucks are on the road, you can't do V2G with them.
If you could, you would use the technology to extend the range of cars, and we do not have that, or even a sniff of it (except at some bus stops in Sweden [I think]).

You can only do V2G when the trucks are parked for the night, and then, it will mostly just be disabling charging now and then, or probably just charging from 2-6am when demand is lowest.

Also, the price of Gasoline is already 8$ / US Gallon in much of Europe and there are precious few electric vans.
(But lots of diesels).

The main benefit would be to society in terms of lower urban pollution, rather than direct money saving.

This would suggest that some tax advantages could be given - to clean the air.


$100k for a 65kWh battery plus motor/inverters is way overpriced.. this needs to come down and then you will see these trucks all over the place. A Leaf's 24kWh pack is about $12k

No idea that it would pay off to sell grid stability services at night.. I guess it would help to integrate more windpower into the grid without causing trouble.

Why not for private owners also?.. plug the car in at work and get paid for it at peak usage times.. plus you get the benefit of drving back home with a nearly full pack.

How can one use the spinning reserves when those trunks are on the road
You can't. You use them overnight, so that the plants which would otherwise have to be operating to provide spinning reserve can be on warm standby instead. This saves money, and also saves fuel by allowing the remaining plants to be operated for best efficiency.

what is the difference between spinning reserve and warm standby?.. my guess one is instantaneous and the other takes an hour to spool up?


I look at it as base load versus peak. Nuclear and coal are base load because they run 24/7. A combined cycle natural gas plant is somewhere in between and a gas turbine plant is more peak because it can be brought online more quickly.

This points out the advantage of a predictive nature to loads. We have a group in California that keeps track of all of that. They know when peak demands will be with some certainty and make plans to cover the loads with power production.


The spinning reserve is the extra generating capacity that is available by increasing the power output of generators that are already connected to the power system. For most generators, this increase in power output is achieved by increasing the torque applied to the turbine's rotor.

Spinning reserve is available to keep the grid frequency from sagging too far and forcing load-shedding or (worst case) the grid from going down.


Yeah, $100k is well over the top.
The cost based on the prices Renault is leasing batteries for might be around $26,000 extra.
I reckon these folks are more interested in selling V2G than seeing a rapid introduction of electric vans.
The idea that the only savings on the maintenance for electric vehicles is due to less frequent changing of the brake discs is crazy too.
No oil chsnges, for a start, and in fact most maintenance requirements are way down.

Nat Pearre

The revenue potential is linearly proportional to the capacity of the (bidirectional) charging setup. Based on their numbers, I infer they're looking at about 15 kW, roughly the J-1772 limit. For such a large vehicle, quadrupling that power should be feasible by going to bi-directional DC fast charging (or other systems), which would quadruple the revenues.

Account Deleted

It's really good news about electric commercial trucks. But also I would like to know about it's Business Electricity Rates. Thanks for your post.

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