New Study Finds Rapidly Declining Costs for Zero-Emitting Freight Trucks and Buses

(Washington, DC – February 10, 2022) By 2027, electric freight trucks and buses will become less expensive to purchase and to operate than their combustion engine counterparts, according to a new study done by Roush Industries for Environmental Defense Fund.

The detailed study was released today. It evaluates both the upfront and ongoing costs of electrifying several types of medium and heavy-duty vehicles that are commonly used in urban areas, including transit buses, school buses, garbage trucks, shuttle buses and delivery trucks.

The study finds that, when considering upfront purchase price alone, by 2027 electric freight trucks and buses will be less expensive than their combustion engine counterparts in all categories except shuttle buses (which are close to price parity). Electric vehicles will also be less expensive on a total cost of ownership basis in all categories in the same time frame.

“Pollution from freight trucks and buses is dangerous to people’s health and accelerates climate change,” said Peter Zalzal, EDF Associate Vice President for Clean Air Strategies. “This study finds that zero-emitting solutions are available and can help save truckers and fleets money, and it adds to the large body of evidence documenting the feasibility of deploying zero-emitting solutions – including actions by states across the country and leading fleets. It also helps underscore the urgent opportunity EPA has in its upcoming standards for heavy-duty vehicles to ensure meaningful deployment of life-saving, zero-emitting freight trucks and buses.”

Freight trucks and buses are less than 10% of the vehicles on US roads, but they are responsible for almost a quarter of all climate pollution from the transportation sector. They also emit more than half of the transportation sector NOx and particulate pollution that causes serious heart and lung diseases. EPA is expected to soon propose standards for model year 2027 through at least 2030 medium and heavy-duty vehicles, and President Biden has directed EPA to consider the role that zero-emitting vehicles can play in eliminating harmful pollution.

The Roush study develops projects for incremental costs and total cost of ownership for electric vehicles in years 2027 to 2030. It compares those costs to equivalent internal combustion vehicles that meet EPA Greenhouse Gas Phase 1 and 2 rules, as well as California Low NOx regulations.

The study determines the total cost of ownership for all financial aspects of ownership, including vehicle purchase cost of either an internal combustion engine or electric freight truck or bus, fuel or energy costs, charging or fueling infrastructure costs, maintenance costs, and vehicle mid- life refresh if applicable. It focuses exclusively on the direct financial costs and savings related to vehicle ownership and does not include the substantial health and welfare benefits associated with switching to electric trucks.

The study finds the general trend across all categories is for decreasing upfront costs for electric freight trucks and buses, driven largely by steeply decreasing battery costs. It also finds that in 2027, electric vehicle costs will be less than internal combustion vehicles costs over the life of the vehicle, because largely maintenance and energy costs will be lower, and finds the cost savings will be more than enough to overcome any added costs from charging infrastructure and will allow for cost parity immediately or very quickly.

The study concludes that “In all cases, there is an incremental cost scenario that favors electrification.”

You can read the full study here, read the fact sheet about the report here, and read EDF’s fact sheet Clean Trucks, Clean Air American jobs here.