Here’s A Huge Reason Why We Need Electric Trucks

While we can all extol the economic and environmental virtues of electricity over diesel, just look at this. This is the insane difference between electric and diesel acceleration, and it will revolutionize the way other drivers interact with trucks.

Just listen to that diesel truck lumbering along, huffing and puffing its way through the gearbox, while the fuel-cell truck – with its electric motors – effortlessly whines and glides its way to optimal velocity.


The truck in the above video technically isn’t a fully “electric truck,” running on batteries like a Tesla, but rather a fuel cell one, part of Toyota’s Project Portal. But the idea is essentially the same, using electricity to drive electric motors. It’s just that Toyota’s system uses hydrogen to produce the electricity, and Tesla’s uses batteries.

The end result in the Toyota system, at least by some measurements, is much the same as in a regular diesel truck. With 670 horsepower and 1,325 lb-ft of torque produced by two fuel stacks out of a Toyota Mirai and a 12kWh battery, which is relatively in line with a lot of semis today.

But the real difference is in how it delivers the power. While diesel trucks do generate a lot of torque down low in their rev range, it still takes some amount of time to get there from idle. And even then, the powerband isn’t very broad, so they’re changing gears a lot.


With electric motors, on the other hand, the torque is virtually instantaneous, and there’s no 18 transmission speeds to get through. The result is massively better acceleration.

Which means that trucks powered by electric motors, with the juice either coming from batteries or hydrogen tanks, won’t just improve the way we breathe. They’ll improve the way we drive, too, without anyone dodging in and out of lanes behind trucks, struggling to get while they’re going, while the truck struggles to haul a heavy load.


(And before anyone goes “but the range!” The early-stage prototype Toyota’s got here can do 200 miles before needing a fill-up, and if Tesla lines its trailer floor with battery cells, there’s a good chance it’ll go even further than that.)

Electric trucks will be even better than you think.

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Michael Ballaban

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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