In the last half-decade, the trucking industry has been working for solutions to keep their business of travel/logistics alive while also moving away from traditional forms of fuel. While gasoline is still king due to its resilience and accessibility, trucking companies along with other power tycoons are inching their way towards and electrified source of power. Fortunately, there may be a way forward in reducing fuel consumption, thanks to solar-powered semi-trucks and other electric vehicles.
Why haven’t seen more electric cars and semis on the road?
Plenty of Americans have been procuring fully electric or hybrid-engine vehicles for years now. Unfortunately, solar-powered vehicles' growth has been hampered by the relatively short battery life and lack of charging facilities. The problem lies with battery management issues, high sticker prices, and reported torque and power performance challenges for hybrid electric vehicles.
Big truck operators have avoided electric-powered vehicles because of the reasons mentioned above. It was only in recent years when a small number of truck companies had a better appreciation of electric-powered trucks' many benefits.
What motivates truckers to go solar?
The North American Council for Freight Efficiency or NACFE studied the benefits of solar panel installation in trucks. According to the NACFE research, solar panels specially designed for the trucking industry are lightweight, thin, flexible, and capable of being attached to the tractor fairing curves. It also noted there is a growing consensus among managers that solar panels are better options as the primary truck batteries are no longer suited for the industry's needs, given the higher demand for driver comfort and new rules on idling reduction.
What are the benefits of going solar?
Reduction of Idling- The solar power system helps minimize the idling of engines while parked, resulting in fuel savings.
Minimized Jump-Starts- Solar power reduces the calls for roadside assistance for jumpstarting trucks. The solar power keeps the batteries charged, thus reducing the inconvenience and costs of both unplanned downtimes and jumpstarting.
Long Battery Life- Having solar power helps extend the life of either the auxiliary of main batteries.
Greater Driver Convenience- Having a refrigerator in trucks means added work for truck drivers. But with a solar system, the work is easier as it helps in eliminating the reloading and unloading of refrigerators during weekends and resets. Reducing the workload of drivers also helps in driver retention.
It’s all about the dollar bills
Electric trucks tend to have higher upfront costs. Like most forms of solar energy, converting to this style of fuel is going to cost a lot up front. Some say that the fuel cost savings can offset the higher price tag and associated financing costs of solar-powered vehicles in the long-run. I suppose it boils down to the question of, “do you have enough money now to save money later”?