BY JIM PARK
It’s now pretty obvious that decarbonizing longhaul trucking in Canada won’t be cheap or easy. Battery weight, limited range, and the extraordinary cost of privately owned charging infrastructure will likely keep large-scale battery-electric vehicle (BEV) adoption at a crawl at least until the end of this decade.
Hydrogen fuel cells and internal combustion engines also look promising but are probably further away from commercialization than BEVs — and expected to cost as much as 30% more than those vehicles.
Is there a middle step we can take now, somewhere between diesel and fully electric, that meets industry needs while checking all the environmental boxes? It might be Hyliion’s Hypertruck ERX.
ERX is a fully electric, battery-powered drivetrain kept charged by a natural gas generator, sometimes called a range extender. It represents a significant step toward decarbonization using an energy source that’s already cleaner and less expensive than diesel. This solution essentially offers unlimited range, and there’s no upfront infrastructure cost.
The truck I drove this November in Austin, Texas, was a pre-production version, but I was told it’s better than 90% production-ready. The company is running controlled fleet trials now, and after evaluating fleet feedback, expects to begin production late in 2023 or early 2024. At this point, there are no Canadian fleets involved in those trials.
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