According to a new forecast report from Navigant Research, global commercial alternative powertrain medium- and heavy-duty vehicle (MHDV) sales will grow from about 347,000 vehicles in 2016 to more than 820,000 in 2026, representing a CAGR of about 9%.
Whereas fuel cost used to be a major driver for fleet managers, the lowering of oil prices and the availability of low-cost natural gas has reduced this concern, Navigant notes. Now the significant impetus behind MHDV powertrains is regulatory; governments in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific are in the process of rolling out new legislation to set emissions and efficiency targets.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that transportation was responsible for about 28% of US the nation’s carbon emissions in 2015, second only to power plants at 31%. Medium- and heavy-trucks represent 4.3% of vehicles in the US, drive 9.3% of all miles driven each year, and consume more than 25% of all the fuel burned annually. Similar ratios have been identified in other world regions; further, as economies grow, the truck population is forecast to increase.
Drive electrification has not been adopted for larger vehicles the way it has been in personal vehicles—with the possible exception of hybrid electric drive in transit buses, which have sold well in certain markets thanks to government subsidies. A major factor has always been the cost of battery packs. As a result of demand for hybrid and all-electric consumer vehicles, the necessary investment in production efficiencies is making larger battery packs more affordable and practical and costs are coming down. As manufacturers of conventional engines are forced to add more technology to clean up exhaust gases, the cost differential to implement new drive technologies will be further reduced.