Which charging infrastructure is required to successfully roll out heavy-duty battery electric vehicles?

June 09, 2021

Electric trucks can help largely to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector – but as they usually cover long distances their limited range is a problem that can only be solved by the deployment of a large charging infrastructure network across Europe. In this context a new Fraunhofer ISI study on behalf of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) analyses possible charging locations for battery electric trucks on the continent. The study is based on data collected from 400,000 trucks and 750,000 stop locations in 35 European countries.

The limited range of battery electric trucks will make high power fast charging necessary during short breaks in long-distance or regional transport as well as medium power charging during longer stops. Thus, a coordinated deployment of charging infrastructure is required to successfully roll out heavy-duty battery electric vehicles. The locations of future charging infrastructure should ideally be chosen such that it does not interrupt current operation patterns, hence it should optimally match current locations of longer stops for many vehicles.

To identify such possible locations, a new Fraunhofer ISI study analysed 30,000 aggregated truck stop locations based on detailed information on the logistics activity of about 400,000 trucks and 750,000 individual stop locations collected by seven OEM in Europe. The unique data set can help planning a future charging infrastructure for battery electric trucks and provides information for long-haul stop locations in 35 countries and regional stop locations in 23 countries.

Stop locations are denser around important industrial areas and cities

The study shows that the truck stop locations are concentrated around highly populated areas in central Europe. They are denser around important industrial areas and major cities – e.g. in Northern Italy, Paris, Greater Manchester, Berlin, or Frankfurt – and follow main European roads. The locations of trucks in regional operation are mostly very close to locations of truck in long-haul operation. An aggregation of the regional truck locations into clusters even showed, that 90% of these regional cluster locations are less than 600m away from long-haul truck cluster locations. Accordingly, charging points for regionally operating vehicles will also be useful for long-haul operation vehicles.

The study also provides first indications about the character of these locations: About one third to one half of them are rest areas close to motorways, about one quarter to more than one third are company sites or logistic hub locations, and finally, about 1 to 5% are ports and ferry terminals. However, for a noteworthy share of up to half of the locations, the specific type of location remains unclear from the present analysis.

Good connectivity to existing long-distance truck network infrastructure

Based on these results, Dr Patrick Plötz who led the study at Fraunhofer ISI, derives the following conclusions regarding charging infrastructure for battery electric trucks: “Our analysis of the first potential public charging locations leads to a few hundred locations for large countries such as Germany, UK and France, a few dozen locations for most of Europe’s countries and less than ten locations for smaller countries such as Luxembourg, Ireland, Latvia, Croatia, or Estonia.”

Plötz highlights the good connectivity to the existing long-distance truck network infrastructure as the mean distance from these potential first public charging stations to all other truck stop locations is typically between 2 and 5 km.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.