Rare earths, batteries: Electric semi-trucks available for customer testing in North America

Daimler sign

Daimler announced in March that the company, together with its North American partner Freightliner, has delivered additional electric trucks as part of its customer testing in North America. The first trucks were delivered in 2019.

Daimler describes the planned specifications of the eCascadia semi-truck, which incorporates lithium-ion batteries with a usable capacity of 550kWh, to include a range of up to 250 miles and the ability to charge up to 80% (range of 200 miles) in roughly 90 minutes. The Class 8 tractor is designed for local and regional distribution and drayage. Daimler reported that first production of the eCascadia is scheduled to begin in 2021.

Roskill View

While electrification of the automotive sector ramps up, commercial EVs are expected to follow suit, although lagging behind the passenger vehicle market. Roskill forecasts commercial EVs to account for less than 10% of global EV sales annually throughout the 2020s. If looking at battery capacity, however, the larger vehicles and required ranges to be suitable for long-haul trucks, increases commercial EVs to around a quarter of the EV market over the mid-2020s. Roskill forecasts the largest market growth to be in China and the USA, where many of the major trucking companies have already placed orders for electric semi-trucks.

The trucking industry will face higher costs from larger battery pack requirements and, in order to offer competitive cost of ownership, the companies will look to utilise reliable and state-of-the-art technologies to maximise battery capacity utilisation. In line with this, and irrespective of the use of Li-ion batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, rare earth neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets are expected to be the drivetrain motor of choice in semi-trucks. Roskill forecasts commercial EVs to account for 10-15% of NdFeB magnet demand over the 2020s.

Roskill has just published the first quarterly update to its 19th Edition of the Rare Earths: Outlook to 2029 report. The report outlines supply, demand, trade and prices for 15 elements and provides an updated price forecast.

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This article was written by Nils Backeberg. Please get in touch below if you wish to discuss further:

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