Transportation & MobilityDecember 4, 2023

Navigating the Electrification Landscape: Current Trends in the Truck and Bus Segment

Current Trends in the Truck and Bus Segment
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As the transportation landscape undergoes a seismic shift towards sustainability, Dassault Systèmes is at the forefront, playing a pivotal role in engineering and manufacturing thanks to the virtual twins’ experience to innovate for more sustainable mobility solutions.

Mr Christophe Montjault is a business strategist in the transportation and mobility unit at Dassault Systèmes. He distinguishes between the varied approaches to electrification for buses and trucks.

Electrification offers two technical alternatives: batteries and hydrogen. Historically, hydrogen was seen as a key solution for trucks due to range capabilities and quick refueling. However, recent developments indicate a shift towards full battery trucks. Battery trucks, especially for last-mile deliveries, exhibit superior performance with an increasing number of charging stations.

While hydrogen remains a testing ground and is used in prototypes, it faces challenges such as limited refilling stations and high costs. Battery-powered buses are gaining prominence, particularly in urban settings, where the range is not a significant concern.

Battery-powered trucks, with established charging infrastructure, outperform hydrogen-powered counterparts. The limited infrastructure and high costs associated with hydrogen make it less feasible for widespread adoption. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for hydrogen trucks remains considerably high, posing a challenge for their commercial viability.

”One solution would be truck companies owning and running their own hydrogen refueling station, and having the trucks coming back regularly to refill,” he explains.

Mr. Montjault emphasizes the security risks involved in working with hydrogen as it is highly explosive. Its low energy efficiency also poses a challenge, with only about 25% of the energy being recovered. Another issue is the scalability of green hydrogen production which further hinders its widespread use.

”The electrification landscape could change if a cost-efficient method for producing green hydrogen emerges within a few years, but I currently don’t see that happening” he says.

Looking ahead, Mr. Montjault predicts that batteries will continue to dominate electrification for the next 5-10 years. Advances in battery technology will enhance efficiency, providing ranges comparable to traditional fuels. Rapid recharging, potentially within 30 minutes, aligns with regulations requiring breaks for drivers, ensuring practicality in long-haul transportation.

Mr. Montjault notes that cultural aspects may play a role in the electrification of public transportation. While commuters may prioritize convenience, city residents often support electrification to mitigate pollution.

A viable aspect of the transition to electrically powered buses and trucks is the possibility of using retrofitting as an interesting avenue for sustainability.

Retrofitting, whether with hydrogen or battery packs, offers an opportunity to extend the lifespan of buses and trucks.

”This approach could prove cost-effective compared to purchasing entirely new electric vehicles, and also aligns well with a demand for increased circularity,” he explains.

Dassault Systèmes, as a key player in the industry, assists engineering teams in making informed decisions. The company offer solutions for design and simulation to address technical challenges and ensure that the engineered solutions meet customer expectations.

The concept of virtual twins is central to Dassault Systèmes’s approach, enabling virtual testing of technologies, including from a customer’s perspective.

”We can offer solutions to design trucks and buses to meet the expected customer experience,” he explains.

Dassault Systèmes’s strategic role in offering engineering solutions and collaborating with global manufacturers positions them as a key influencer in shaping the sustainable future of transportation. As the industry continues to evolve, Dassault Systèmes’s commitment to innovation and sustainability remains stable.

Read more on this local Swedish story in Swedish here

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