Electric Truck Carries 74 Tons

Thanks to the various measurement systems in use, we aren’t sure if Volvo has created an electric truck that carries 74 metric tons, 74 short tons, or 74 long tons, but either way, that’s a lot of cargo for an electric truck. After all, that’s somewhere between 148,000 and 163,000 pounds (or 67,000 kg to 74,000 kg). That’s about three times what a typical 18-wheeler with a flatbed carries in the US. In fact, on a U.S. road, trucks typically have to weigh less than 80,000 pounds, including the truck to be legal.

Well, the monster electric Volvo has two trailers, so it is more fair to compare it to turnpike doubles, which typically carry about 148,000 pounds of cargo. The truck operates 12 hours a day and charges when the driver takes a break. At the depot, charging is from two 180 kW chargers that use green electricity, according to the company. The truck has been running for a few months, although we haven’t heard more about how successful or unsuccessful it might be.

Volvo has been producing electric trucks for a few years, but this is a behemoth. We have a feeling that this might be more of a technology demonstrator than something they think they will sell in quantity, but that could also depend on the operating costs of driving the thing.

We keep waiting for power for vehicles to come from the road instead of the vehicle. If you do it right, though, they claim you can produce more power than you consume — you just have to roll down a mountain loaded down.

71 thoughts on “Electric Truck Carries 74 Tons

  1. Do note that those 74tonnes (As they write it, which implies metric https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonne ) is the gross combination weight, and not the cargo capacity.
    So I assume that means it can carry it’s own battery.

    Or does it mean the driver has to take a break when the truck needs to recharge?

    Really, when you read the article a bit more careful, there is really very little useful data at all in the article, such as cargo capacity, battery capacity, action radius without charging, charging time, etc. The article is so void of info that it becomes pathetic.

    The article does state there are 2 180kW chargers, and apparently in the same location (Arendal). An article like this only becomes interesting when it has some hard data, and most preferably some long term data about battery lifetime / degradation and realistic operating costs.

    1. A 40ft container’s max gross weight is 32500kg, 2 are 65 metric max, while trailers weigh about 4 tonnes each and a diesel tractor (semi for you americans) about 8 tonnes. A ballpark figure I found is that electric trailers usually weigh about 2-3 tonnes more (due to the engine and drivetrain being a lot lighter, that means about 3-4 tonnes in battery weight)

      Trucks that mostly cover distances have a power usage that’s largely independent of weight, as wind resistance is independent of weight and rolling resistance is near-independent. Only when accelerating often, or going over hills, weight is of large concern.

      I have no experience with trucking, but I do with buses. Our newest electric buses that do mainly highway rouyes have a consumption of about 0,65 kWh/km, I would guess that for a large truck like this, doing less stopping but also more distance at speed (80km/h) somewhere in the 1.3 kWh/km must be attainable.
      And in a 12hr shift I would say it can do 750km, meaning 975kWh.

      European trucking rules are largely unified, a truck driver needs 45mn of break time in a 11hr shift, so in this time it could recharge only 135 kWh, so a battery needs to be 840kWh, which at 200Wh/kg would require a 4.2 ton (metric) battery.
      There’s some 5 tonnes missijg in this equation but as containers are rarely charged to their full weight I’m willing to accept these figures.

  2. “At the depot, charging is from two 180 kW chargers that use green electricity, according to the company.”

    So they’re recharging a 74 ton semi that can pull 12 hour continuous runs with solar and wind power, huh? Because anything else ain’t “green.” Ain’t no way…

    1. No, not a 12 hour continuous run. A trucker is required to take a specific amount of rest every couple of hours, very convenient for EVs to recharge. AFAIK at least 45 minutes every 4 hours. In 45 minutes you can usually recharge 50-75% of the battery capacity.

      1. And there just happens to be a recharging station running on green energy at all the truck stops where the trucker takes his breaks! yay! It’s a all unicorn sprinkles everywhere!

        1. You didn’t happen to notice that it’s about one truck? If there was more they would also brag about them.
          So Yes, ALL of the stops have installed chargers, probably specifically installed for this very truck.

      2. My point was more about the 180kw charging station claiming to be “green energy” than about the truck itself. There is NO WAY that a 180kw charging station is “green energy.” They can dress that up all they want, but it’s still lipstick on a pig.

    2. Depends on the definition of “green energy”.
      In Sweden they have an electricity power mix of 50% renewable (mainly water) and 50% fossile free energy (nuclear power).
      And if you then chip in trading of energy with other countries you can basically wash everything green.

    3. Not to discount the role fossil fuel electricity plays in destroying the environment but in theory polluting in one place at scale is easier to remediate than 3 million trucks polluting their way across the country.
      Even if it ‘just’ reduces sulfur aerosols and soot it’s an improvement.

    1. Assuming a comparable range for a semi (150 gallons, 900 mi range) and ignoring the efficiency differences in drive train, the battery stores 21.8 GJ or around 6.1 MWh. At 200 Wh/kg that’s a 30,397 kg battery.

        1. You ignore that a battery electric deivetrain is /vastly/ more efficient than a diesel one and that you can’t do 900mi (1440km) in the quoted 12hr day.

          A long-haul truck will do about 1.3kWh/km, and about 750km in a day, which comes to 975kWh, of which 135 is recharged during driver breaks, so 840kW battery is needed, which comes to a much more manageble 4.2 metric tonne.

  3. Another version of this category of prime mover/tractor allows for the batteries to be swapped out mid journey. This done here in Australia between Sydney and Brisbane (1000 klm) at about the 500 klm mark – the operation takes about 15 minutes, using a fork lift while the driver is on a break. The com[any behind the technology is Janus.
    Where the truck is doing local deliveries, Volvo designed around a daily trip of about 300 klm, so the truck is charged overnight.

  4. “…Volvo has created an electric truck that carries 74 metric tons, 74 short tons, or 74 long tons…”

    For how long, and for how far on a single, uninterrupted journey ? And, no: “…The truck operates 12 hours a day…” does not answer the question.

  5. Truck probably works fine to pull around on a nice level surface around the facility. Then off loaded to a real truck for transport over hill and dale. Always have a truck or two on the charger — just like we have at least two batteries for our home drills so work doesn’t stop.

    1. When I worked for Bosch there was an area in the factory where the forklift batteries 🔋 (spares) were kept and charged. A dedicated machine (also 🔋 operated) was used to unload and reload the various types of batteries 🔋.

        1. It is about 20% for larger vehicles (who have vastly more complicated and capaple inverter systems) for braking from cruising speed to standstill, but about 55-60% when trying to maintain speed when going downhill – again, on a regularly steady space.

          1. Thing is, you kinda want to pick up some extra speed going downhill, so you can lose the speed on the next uphill or roll farther away down the valley, because that’s much more efficient.

        2. A large factor (for cars) is the loss of power to air resistance, or the ratio of mass to frontal area. (Bicycles are the worst – not much brake energy to recuperate as air resistance slows you down so fast)
          Long, heavy trucks going down mountains slowly are the opposite – little wind resistance, heaps of energy to recover. Electric trains even moreso.
          Quite easy to imagine a future where overhead power wires are used to get trucks across mountain ranges, while their batteries can coast them across the long flats, without the heinous cost of thousands of miles of wires

    2. I never understood the “real truck” attitude, since any “real power” is electric. There are no really big ice engines, but there are really big electric ones – and have been for a long time. It’s about time to also make the small loads electric, aka trucks.

  6. Spitballing here- long haul trucks spend the vast majority of their route on interstates. If there was a dedicated trucking lane with a catenary then the size of the battery in the truck would be way smaller. The truck could still head off-grid to complete the route.
    Considering that heavy trucking contributes most if not nearly all wear to the road surface compared to passenger cars, and the bonus if not having enormous trucks trying to murder you, it could be workable. The decreased maintenance cost of the entire highway would likely more than offset the cost of installing that infrastructure. But I have no basis for that assertion.
    Oh also a lot of trucks say “GPS equipped” so I’m guessing the employer monitors speeding etc, so a single truck lane would just be everyone following at 6-feet going exact same speed. It could even be faster than normal speed limit with safety.
    Just a thought.

      1. And with the rails guiding it the whole way, you could make a really big tractor and hang hundreds of trailers off the back of it. I think you’re onto something there.

        Oh, but the astounding cost of the infrastructure surely makes it virtually impossible. Who could ever possibly come up with that much money and still make it profitable?

      2. I believe you are describing a train. When a train can get off its rails and deliver one and only one rail car to any address in the city, give me a call. Till then, get back to work.

        1. Automatic offload/onload of containers (or wagons), with local trucks. The containers is already on a moving platform so you should be good with a rather small crane, just move the train forward.
          Trucks could be loaded with the same crane.
          I have not heard about any similar setup, but should this not be like the defacto standard? I guess the container locks on the train might be a weak point, but still?

          1. Na, I am holding out for giant drones that can pick up a shipping container and drop it with a parachute, so when it lands on your house by mistake it crushes it slowly instead of all at once. I think the government is shooting for 5 minutes so if you get out fast you can shoot a video of your house being crushed or tic tok

        2. At one time there were freight stations where train carloads of goods were dropped off and transferred to local trucks and wagons in any town of significance. Then the government decided that it would be better for force folks to pay for paving over huge swaths of land for the use of energy inefficient long haul trucks.

  7. Nobody, not Tesla, Volvo Daimler, Nikola – as far as I know – has released the curb weight of their electric trucks to allow people to figure out the load capacity.
    Why not?
    Hint: Cause it’s probably close to half of the total carrying capacity, in order to be able to tow it a minimum, say, 300 miles.

    1. Since that is a Swedish license plate, just going into ‘Transportstyrelsens Fordonsuppgifter’ and typing in that license plate gives you data. It’s the database for all vehicles registered in Sweden. The truck weighs 12955kg, and max cargo weight is 16045kg, for at total max weight of 29000kg. Apparently it’s only allowed to carry 14045kg cargo due to tax bracket reasons. It’s allowed to toe a maximum of 60000kg. Max power during 30 minutes is 498kW, and 600kW for short durations, and it’s sound level is below 69db while driving.

    1. You never know, it could be Shit Tons? But then again would they be Imperial Shit Tons, American Shit Tons or the metric Tonne de Merde (TdM)? Oh weights and measures can be fun.

  8. I find it a little amusing that the carrying capacity is trumpeted (and not, say, the range). The first really big electric vehicle I saw (40+ years ago) was the Maid Marion dragline excavator. It could have picked up that whole truck with cargo, batteries and all, in a single shovel scoop and *walk* it somewhere else. At least as far as its power cable anyway, which was as thick as my torso but let it roam a few kilometers. (Marion also built the similar-weight Apollo/Shuttle crawler transporters too, but those weren’t electrically powered)

    1. I’ve stood inside the scoop of a Marion 8000 series digger and it’s not that big. It might pick up a van, but not a whole truck.


      And it was built with two power options: diesel and electric – but not diesel-electric. The whole mechanism was cable and clutch operated, so all the motor did was spin a huge axle at a constant speed and the rest was mechanical.

      1. True, the truck & trailer would have to be compacted a bit to all fit *inside* the scoop, but the Marion would have no trouble at all toting that weight, being just a couple of percent of the weight of the Marion itself.

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