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February 15, 2022   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

The Future of Trucking Through 2030: Combustion vs. Battery vs. Hydrogen

In the future, whether that be 2030 or beyond, one thing we can agree on is that it is reasonable to expect that our powertrain lineup for commercial trucks will be more eclectic than ever


Diesel, and the combustion engines running on it, will continue to dominate the commercial trucking sector through 2030, beating out hydrogen and electrification. That was the key message from Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum during a recent virtual debate organized by Mobility Impact Partners.

Full decarbonization of the commercial truck sector will not happen overnight, which makes doing the most we can now, wherever we can, all the more important. The very nature of the commercial trucking sector demands many options. Continued investment in combustion engines like diesel and natural gas, as well as the use of more low-carbon renewable fuels, are critical components that are delivering meaningful emissions and carbon reductions today with even greater potential in the future.

At this time, hydrogen and all-electric trucks both have significant economic, policy and market hurdles to overcome for broader adoption, but offer promise for the future.

The top five reasons diesel stays number one include: 

It is important to recognized two outsized influences that can skew perceptions about current and future fuels. First, California and its policy priorities, and billions of public dollar investments made to subsidize new fuels there, are not likely to be replicated in other states. Second, while the overall industry benefits from knowledge gained from large, high-profile national fleets that can support demonstrations of electric and hydrogen vehicles in their fleets, over 97% of the trucking industry is dominated by fleets of 20 or fewer vehicles, with far fewer means and greater aversion to risk that comes with new technology investments. 

In the future, whether that be 2030 or beyond, one thing we can agree on is that it is reasonable to expect that our powertrain lineup for commercial trucks will be more eclectic than ever. That means a mix of technologies like diesel as well as new fuels like hydrogen, fuel cells and battery electric vehicles. The how and when are the big unknowns. We know the why, to meet the challenge of our time in attacking climate change.

Resources:

Colin Murphy, the deputy director of the UC Davis Policy Institute, argued that battery-powered vehicles will soon dominate.

Craig Scott of Toyota made the case for hydrogen fueled vehicles.

Watch the Recording

The Mobility Impact Partners Website



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Key Contact

Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director
aschaeffer@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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