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Mr. John Smith

Job title



Applications with high daily mileage represent a central challenge in the decarbonization of heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Different emission-free propulsion and recharging technologies are proposed as a solution to this problem. This study presents a model to compare these technologies from an economic point of view. The battery swapping approach exclusively developed in the eHaul project (funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action) is compared to alternative technologies, namely megawatt charging (MWC), overhead catenary (OC) and hydrogen fuel cell (FC) as well as a diesel base case. A detailed cost comparison model is conceptualized and developed. Central criterium for the comparison is the total cost of ownership (TCO) over a five-year period from the logistics companies’ operational perspective. Costs for vehicle acquisition, vehicle maintenance and operation and energy supply are taken into account as well as costs for infrastructure construction and operation. Non-monetary factors such as total travel time and possible payloads are also considered. Parametrization is done based on literature values and empirical values from the eHaul project. Basic vehicle and infrastructure configurations are defined for the investigated technologies. The evaluation is performed in two steps. Short-term minimal scenarios are analyzed individually for each of the emission free technologies to make the economics in the market introduction phase comprehensible. Additionally, a larger long-term scenario is introduced which allows a direct comparison of all technologies under identical conditions. Finally, important cost drivers are identified. The analysis of the minimal scenarios shows that both, battery swapping and MWC, are well suited for small-scale use cases. Assuming today's cost structures and funding instruments, it is in both cases possible to achieve cost parity with diesel trucks even with less than 100 vehicles and relatively low infrastructure costs. The OC only becomes economical in very large-scaled scenarios and requires significant initial infrastructure investment. FC trucks cannot be operated economically due to high energy costs regardless of scenario scaling. In the expansion scenario, assuming moderate cost reductions and introducing revenues from greenhouse gas certificate trading, battery swapping as well as MWC and OC represent economic alternatives to diesel vehicles even with the elimination of the current additional vehicle cost subsidy allowed in countries like Germany and Austria. Cost differences between these three technologies are small, making other factors like flexibility and availability important. The fuel cell cannot be used economically even under these conditions. A limiting factor for the accuracy of the results is that cost structures for technologies with still low technical maturity (especially MWC) have not yet been published. They must therefore be estimated using equivalence assumptions, which assume identical costs for comparable components used in different propulsion technologies. Furthermore, no quantifiable results are yet available for important factors such as flexibility, driver acceptance or reliability of the technologies. These are therefore not yet considered here. Finally, revenues that can be generated from grid services (in particular if bidirectional charging infrastructure is installed) are not yet included in the cost calculation. The novelty value of this study lies on the one hand in the proposition of in Europe yet neglected, fully automated battery swapping technology for heavy duty vehicles and on the other hand in the comparison of all relevant emission-free propulsion technologies under identical conditions for the two scenarios (market entry and growth) for these technologies. Additionally, exclusive insights to the eHaul project are given. The study shows that the assessed battery swapping approach can be economically comparable to diesel and MWC in both scenarios. Meanwhile OH is only feasible in the large-scale scenario. This limits OC to a government-funded infrastructure development, while battery swapping and MWC also appear suitable for a private sector-led infrastructure development. FC cannot compete economically in either scenario. In a larger scaled scenario, the cost differences between battery swapping, MWC and OC are small. Decisive factors for technological preference from the operators’ point of view might thus in the end be flexibility, ease of use and availability rather than cost.

Mr. Oliver Kilian, student employee, Technische Universität Berlin

Economic Feasibility Study to Compare Battery Swapping with Other Electric Drivetrain Technologies for Emission Free Road Bound Long Haul Freight Transport

FWC2023-REI-006 • Road & energy infrastructure


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