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Shopping Guide for Electric Semi Trucks [Prices, Weights and Payload]

Here is an analysis of the available information for the electric Semi trucks that are currently available.

I could not find detailed pricing for many of the electric semi-trucks because they have variable pricing based upon the location and situation. I believe they adjust prices based upon the available incentives. There are huge $185k incentives in New York and $120k incentives in California. They likely increase prices as the incentives increase. There can also be grants from states and regions that can cover all costs.

Most of the electric Semi from Freightliner, Volvo, Kenworth and Peterbilt are about $400k-500k. Newcomers Lion, BYD and Nikola are in the $300-400k range. There are less expensive class 4, 5, 6, and 7 electric trucks.

The Tesla Semi has about double the range and 30%+ efficiency. The smaller trucks with less payload can have more efficiency.

The Tesla 300 mile range has a smaller and lighter battery so it can carry more up the highway weight limit versus the 500 mile range Tesla. The competition from Freightliner, Volvo etc.. all have shorter ranges. They have a payload disadvantage relative to the Tesla 300 mile range and shorter ranges. One configuration of the Freightliner eCascadia has slightly more payload for a 220 mile range vs the 300 mile range Tesla.

Tesla Semi will get the California and New York incentives in 2023. If Tesla does not raise prices in the those situatons the trucks would be free after incentives. The Tesla prices are from 2017, so Tesla will likely have higher official prices announced shortly.

Diesel Semi trucks are usually in the $130k-160k price range.

Diesel trucks will tend to be lighter than the electric trucks. Tesla Semi is better than the other electric trucks on weight with only a 8000 lb disadvantage for the 2500 mile range and 500 pound disadvantage for the 300 mile range. The Tesla Semi payload disadvantage is reduced in the US with a +2000 lbs increased weight limit. In Europe this is further reduced as electric trucks in Europe are allowed a weigh limit of an extra 4000 lbs more than the diesel trucks.

Tandem Drive Truck Tractor with Sleeper: 18,000 lbs


Van (Box) Trailer 53’ long with 2 axles: 17,650 lbs


Total: 35,650 lbs

Electric trucks have operating costs about 20% of the diesel trucks for fuel. Trucks driving 100000 miles would need $80k-100k in annual fuel while the Tesla electric would need only $17k.

Freightliner and Volvo discuss the use cases for electric trucks. 60% of trucks in the US make 100 mile or shorter trips. There are regular route situation and movement of payloads between docks.

Freightliner discussion about when to use electric trucks.

Local and regional range


While electric trucks are already on the road, charging infrastructure is still developing. As a result, many electric trucks travel around 200 miles before returning to a central location to charge. However, shorter range is hardly a limitation. According to the U.S Department of Energy, two-thirds of freight across the country was shipped less than 100 miles in 2018.

Dedicated, repeatable routes


Since electric trucks generally return to a central charging location every day, their routes tend to be more regular and predictable. With the right planning, a fully charged electric truck can be matched with just the right route – right down to the mile.

Focusing on the short (and simple) game


Because battery-electric trucks are often used for shorter trips, drivers don’t have to take on long-haul shifts. That means a sleeper cab in an electric truck is not yet a major consideration, which makes for a more straightforward setup all around.

On-premises: Yard trucks

Commercial fleet electrification can be a gradual process. For example, replacing a few yard trucks – vehicles that stay in one location to move freight on-premises – with electric ones is a great way to make a small step toward your electric goals. And since yard trucks don’t travel far, charging these vehicles is as simple as it gets.

On the road: Port and rail drayage

While battery-powered trucks are well-suited for many short-haul applications, they’re ideal for keeping drayage operations simple, efficient and more comfortable for drivers. Designed for quick, one-shift trips, they’re perfect for hauling shipping containers from a port’s warehouse or a rail yard, or simply moving cargo across a city.

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