An electric Duramax truck may sound like a contradiction, but it’s actually sitting in wait on the horizon.
With the current shift toward electric vehicle manufacturing, the future of electric heavy-duty trucks is on the rise.
Manufacturers like GM aim to have fully electric lineups by 2040, meaning you may see an electric Duramax on the road much sooner than you thought.
While evidence is mostly speculation, there’s a lot to discuss regarding the future of electric heavy-duty trucks. Keep reading as we explore the path laid out and current concerns and benefits to watch.
The Pathway to the Future of Electric Heavy-Duty Trucks
It may seem like electric heavy-duty trucks are beyond reach, but everything about the current shift toward electric vehicle production is on track to make them a reality.
This is a blend of current surprise developments in electric vehicles and the goals of manufacturers.
Something that many shook their heads at only a few years ago is now setting tires to pavement, and this will only snowball while setting the course for electric heavy-duty vehicles.
The Current Shift to Electric
The shift to electric trucks is already well underway, and manufacturers like Ford, Rivian, and Chevrolet are rolling out light-duty trucks with electric engines.
Government regulations are pushing manufacturers to commit to fully electric vehicles in their lineup.
The restrictions for light-duty vehicles, which are stricter than those for heavy duty trucks, are a major driving force for this shift, and vehicles need to have crazy fuel economy ratings by 2026.
While you already see electric variants on the market today, they’ll become more prevalent in the coming years.
You’ll slowly see more electric motors and hybrid powertrains that will graduate to the shift to electric heavy-duty trucks.
Is an Electric Duramax Truck Realistic?
Manufacturers have until 2040 to meet the restrictions for heavy-duty vehicles, but they’re bound to take the leap completely by 2035. This may seem like a short period of time to develop the technology needed for a worthwhile vehicle, but it’s worth remembering that the original diesel engine was developed in just 13 years.
It won’t be easy, but creating an electric truck with Duramax-equivalent capabilities is a realistic goal. While other diesel manufacturers seem hesitant to make the commitment, General Motors is plowing ahead by investing in the technology needed for this shift.
The manufacturer plans for carbon neutrality at all their facilities by 2035, and putting money into efforts that improve fuel cell technology will help them reach this goal. GM also aims to apply the hydrogen technology they are joint-developing with Honda to future electric vehicles.
At the moment, the competition with Rivian and Tesla for developing heavy-duty trucks, paired with the implementation of government regulations, is the pressure forming this diamond.
Concerns About Electric Heavy-Duty Trucks
There have always been reservations about heavy duty trucks, and they’re still valid today. Most drivers are hesitant to get excited about the future of electric heavy duty trucks until they see improvements in:
- Range and payload capacity
- Vehicle price points
These were the same concerns they had about early model light-duty trucks like the Silverado, but with starting models listing a range up to 300 miles and 660 hp, the foundation is solid for future vehicles.
Range and Payload
That said, light duty vehicles are not expected to support the same conditions of heavy-duty trucks. A 400 mile range could easily be cut in half, or worse, when towing a trailer, and the more you tow the lower your range on a full charge.
Even with a long range vehicle, this leaves you deciding between a comfortable range and a truly heavy-duty payload.
Considering some drivers are traveling well over a thousand miles in a day, needing to stop every hour for a full recharge could completely ruin your timeline. Manufacturers need to improve battery capabilities in the coming years if they want HD truck drivers to make the shift.
Infrastructure is another major concern. While charging stations exist today, a sudden shift to electric vehicles would decimate our power grid. Drivers need to see more charging stations available, and they should be just as reliable as gas stations.
Most of these stations aren’t designed with larger vehicles in mind, and they’ll need to accommodate truck drivers in the near future.
Manufacturers should also come to a consensus about charging ports on EVs.
Without noting these issues and making improvements, heavy duty drivers will take issue with the availability of reliable energy and the ease of access in charging.
New technology is always more expensive, and this has yet to be resolved with light-duty EV trucks. Many of them cost over $100,000 to start, and it only goes up from there.
It’s likely that the technology will become cheaper as the years go on, and electric vehicles may become cheaper than their predecessors. It may be an oversimplification, but smart cell phones were once too expensive for most, and now most people can get one into their pocket.
Waiting for the price to drop also benefits by allowing the technology to improve before you get behind the wheel.
Benefits of Electric Heavy-Duty Trucks
Expect the benefits of electric vehicles to transfer seamlessly to heavy-duty trucks once they get on the road. Many prefer EVs because:
- You get instant power
- Less moving parts equate to less maintenance
- They contribute fewer emissions over their lifetime
They may not counter those concerns quite yet, but once everything levels out, they offer an undeniable edge.
Neither gas nor diesel vehicles offer you instant torque when you request it, but electric vehicles move as soon as you make the demand. Not only that, but the right design offers them quite a bit of power.
This is why the Silverado EV boasts zero to sixty in under 4.5 seconds, as well as instant access to over 780 lb-ft of torque. You see Teslas easily outrunning Hellcats for the same reason, and they’ll only get stronger from here.
Easily put, your electric heavy-duty truck will not need as much maintenance as its gas or diesel cousin. You may pay a bit more upfront, but you’re saving in the long run with:
- No fuel additives
- No oil changes
- No fuel filter changes
- No injector
- No need for DEF
This also makes for a more reliable vehicle, especially once the technology has a chance to put rubber to the road for practical assessment.
While it’s a common counterargument that electric vehicles are just as bad for the environment due to manufacturing, the truth is that the greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime are typically lower from the gas or diesel-powered version. Including manufacturing.
Making an electric vehicle involves more carbon pollution due to the energy needed to make the battery, but the total emissions added from charging and driving still come in under the average.
This will only go down as we learn how to improve manufacturing and recycling processes.
While it isn’t here yet, the future of heavy-duty trucks will be on us sooner than anyone thinks. We don’t suggest you hold your breath but keep your eyes peeled and ears open for technological advancements you couldn’t even dream.
History is always made, but this change is happening in your lifetime.