We believe the time for this technology is ripe and that three drivers will support the eTruck market through 2030. First, based on total cost of ownership (TCO), these trucks could be on par with diesels and alternative powertrains in the relative near term. Second, robust electric-vehicle (EV) technology and infrastructure is becoming increasingly cost competitive and available. Third, adoption is being enabled by the regulatory environment, including country-level emission regulations (for example, potential carbon dioxide fleet targets) and local access policies (for example, emission-free zones). At the same time, barriers to eTruck adoption exist: new vehicles must be proved to be reliable, consumers need to be educated, and employees, dealers, and customers will require training. Furthermore, there are challenges in managing the new supply chain and setting up the production of new vehicles.
Based on the analysis of many different scenarios—which are highly sensitive to a defined set of assumptions—our research shows that commercial-vehicle (CV) electrification will be driven at different rates across segments, depending on the specific characteristics of use cases.
Electrification is happening fast, and it’s happening now
McKinsey developed a granular assessment of battery-electric commercial vehicles (BECVs) for 27 CV segments across three different regions (China, Europe, and the United States), three weight classes, and three applications. The three weight classes are light-duty trucks (LDTs), medium-duty trucks (MDTs), and heavy-duty trucks (HDTs), while the three applications are urban, regional, and long-haul cycles. While our modeling also includes other alternative fuels and technologies such as mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), natural gas, and fuel-cell electric CVs, this article focuses on full electrification.
Our model concentrates on two scenarios, “early adoption” and “late adoption,” to help place bookends for each weight class and geography (Exhibit 1). The two scenarios reflect different beliefs regarding core assumptions, such as the effectiveness of any regulatory push, the timing of infrastructure readiness, and the supply availability, which results in delay or advancement of uptake.
Our research reveals strong potential uptake of BECVs, especially in the light- and medium-duty segments. Unlike decision criteria to purchase passenger cars, CV purchasing decisions place greater emphasis on economic calculations and reflect a greater sensitivity to regulation. Light- and medium-duty BECV segment adoption will probably lag that of passenger-car EVs through 2025 due to a lack of eTruck model availability and fleets that are risk averse. However, our analysis indicates that in an “early adoption” scenario, BECV share in light and medium duty could surpass car EV sales mix in some markets by 2030 due to undeniable TCO advantages for BECVs over diesel trucks.
Comparing the weight classes, our scenarios suggest low uptake in the HDT segment mainly because of high battery costs, and, as such, later TCO parity. In the MDT and LDT segments, our “late adoption” scenario suggests that BECVs could reach 8 to 27 percent sales penetration by 2030, depending on region and application. In our “early-adoption” scenario, with more aggressive assumptions about the expansion of low-emission zones in major cities, BECVs could reach 15 to 34 percent sales penetration by 2030.
The inflection point appears to be shortly after 2025, when demand could be supported by a significant tailwind from the expected tightening of regulation (for example, free-emission zones), in combination with increasing customer confidence, established charging infrastructure, model availability, and improved economics for a variety of use cases and applications.
The importance of total cost of ownership
TCO plays a more important role in commercial-vehicle purchasing considerations and modeling TCO helps companies understand the timing of TCO parity across different powertrain types. We analyzed the sensitivity of TCO parity to see how much earlier a specific use case with a custom-made technology package tailored to a predefined driving and charging pattern can break even. The illustration of the “race of eTrucks” shows the interval of potential TCO breakeven points for various applications and weight classes (Exhibit 2). The light-colored shade behind each point indicates how early a specific use case can potentially break even. . . .
There's much more.