In city environments and on the vast majority of short range tasks, electric power is the most likely technology to be used. Small electric fast charging stations have been popping up around our cities in the last few years to cater for the small but growing band of Tesla and other electric car buyers. These are often placed in small sites in difficult to get to car parks and dotted around in the inner city.
This may work for big city office workers and their small cars, but are not going to work for the transport industry. Most of the electric vehicles working in the city are likely to be those which are back to base at the end of every shift. The fast or slow chargers back at the yard are the most likely methods of delivery for the basic electric powered option.
There are a number of factors which will determine exactly how a truck battery will be charged. In order for the truck to be charged simply by plugging into a three-phase electricity outlet, it will need to have an onboard AC/DC converter fitted. It is is the capacity of these converters which effects the speed of the charging process.
For faster turnaround times the truck will need the much quicker DC fast charging. This technology is the one which will be fitted at truck depots to handle charging. The industry also reckons this is the type of charging which will be available at retail charging (service) stations. This charging technology will probably also become available at truck destinations, like distribution centres, container terminals etc.
The experience in the US is that some enterprises have found it is not necessary to invest in their own expensive charging facilities as long as there are compatible charging facilities on the routes they use.
The higher power chargers are rated up to around 350kW and these are the kinds of size which will be needed for truck fleets. When connected the vehicle tells the charger what kind battery it has and how much charge is required. Therefore, any vehicle, large or small, can use the same outlet. Most of the chargers currently being fitted in the US and European market are of a lower rating as they are mainly aimed at the car market.
Those setting up charging stations are pricing relative to the cost of electricity from the grid, the investment in the site and equipment, and a profit margin on the top. There are a number of different models being tried, at the moment. Basically, they revolve around the kilowatt hour (kWh) price and may vary based upon the level of demand, with prices rising when the charging facilities get crowded.
One of the more progressive states, California, has a scheme which subsidises the building and operation of fast DC chargers around the state to the point where they can be built for a minimal price. This is part of a policy to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.