Daimler Truck has been delivering electric trucks and buses since 2017, but after tripling, deliveries last year only reached 712 units. Even ignoring the increased raw material prices for the production of traction batteries, according to automaker representatives, electric trucks will always be more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts, so subsidies of one form or another are indispensable.
As the head of Daimler Trucks Martin Daum (Martin Daum) explained in an interview The Financial Timesthe electric long-distance tractor eActros now costs three times as much to produce as a combustion engine, and this gap is unlikely to close significantly in the near future. A diesel vehicle costs the automaker 25,000 euros in material costs, and with a traction battery capacity of 400 kWh, truck batteries alone are significantly more expensive. In order to be able to keep up with a diesel car in terms of battery costs alone, a 1 kWh capacity would have to cost 60 euros from the manufacturer, and that is a long way off.
On the contrary, prices for cobalt and lithium have more than doubled since last year and nickel has risen sharply in recent weeks. If last year 1kWh of battery capacity cost the manufacturer $132, then it won’t drop below $100 until at least 2024, according to BloombergNEF analysts. The Daimler management is in favor of directly or indirectly subsidizing the sale of battery trucks – for example by tightening tax laws for companies that operate diesel vehicles. In purely cost terms, electric trucks will always be more expensive than ICE options.
The situation will change slightly with higher diesel fuel prices as operating costs will make those running more diesel fleets consider alternatives. If battery raw material shortages and high prices continue, Daum said the company could push ahead with its development of hydrogen fuel cell trucks. The head of Daimler Trucks had previously expressed that he considered it necessary to invest in the development of battery options in parallel. Significantly fewer raw materials are required for the production of fuel cells and power plants based on them, while internal material competition with cars and batteries disappears.
The management of Daimler Trucks welcomes the signing of an agreement by the German authorities with Qatar for the supply of hydrogen and liquefied natural gas, but criticizes the European authorities for preventing the creation of a joint venture between Daimler, Volvo and Traton to build a network would from truck charging stations across the region. According to Daum, it was impossible to hesitate in this matter.