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The Big Shift in Semi-Trucks: Diesel to Electric

See the full infographic below

Local, regional, and long-haul trucking are essential parts of our fast-paced economy. We are used to seeing box trucks and massive 18-wheelers rumbling down the interstate, rushing to deliver many of the goods we take for granted as being readily available every day. As you might expect, operating these hefty commercial motor vehicles is a costly endeavor ─ both financially and environmentally.

Each year, trucking companies spend millions of dollars on fuel to power their fleets of diesel trucks. Meanwhile, diesel engines are a major contributor to pollution.
In recent years, truck manufacturers have been exploring ways to ditch the dependence on diesel and transition to an alternative that is less costly and more efficient. Thus, the (slow) turn to electric trucks.

Current Snapshot of semi-trucks Current Snapshot: Truck Statistics

2 million

Tractor-trailers on the road in the United States

6.5 mpg

Median fuel economy for heavy-duty trucks


Annual cost of fuel for a diesel truck


Gallons of fuel used by a diesel truck annually (compared to 500 gallons for a passenger car)


Of trucks use alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and electric

200,000 to 300,000

Trucks are replaced each year

Pros and Cons of Switching to Electric Trucks

When considering the switch to electric from diesel, trucking companies are weighing the benefits and challenges.



  • Cost less to operate
  • Easier to maintain
  • Reduce tailpipe emissions to zero
  • Cost more to purchase
  • Limited range, with more batteries needed for longer hauls
  • Infrastructure constraints

Comparing Costs Upfront vs. Over the Long Haul

One hurdle that comes with any new technology is pricing. Currently, electric trucks cost more to purchase than traditional diesel trucks. However, proponents say they could save companies money in the long run with lower operating costs.

Diesel Truck

Electric Truck

  • $150,000 – cost of a new diesel tractor and trailer
  • $1.38 per mile – average cost to operate
  • $180,000 – anticipated cost of Tesla’s new 500-mile electric semi-truck
  • $1.26 per mile – estimated cost to operate Tesla’s electric semi-truck

“Technology advances make predicting the long-term price of electric trucks difficult. Battery price reductions down the road could have a large effect on the cost-competitiveness of electric trucks, while only diesel fuel prices could have a similarly large effect on the future cost-competitiveness of diesel trucks.”

– Valerie Thomas, Professor at Georgia Tech School of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Phases of Electric Truck Rollout

We all know that change doesn’t happen overnight. As older diesel trucks are retired, companies are considering whether it makes sense to transition to electric. So far, the industry has seen the greatest success with medium-duty trucks running urban routes, where there are frequent stops and opportunities to recharge. However, as technology improves, more fleets are expected to make the switch to electric.

  • Stage 1: Medium-duty box trucks and vans
  • Stage 2: Heavy-duty semis used for regional hauling
  • Stage 3: Long-haul semis

“With battery vehicles, it comes down to range, because batteries cost money and they add weight. Long haul will probably be the last to see electrification because they’ll probably need fuel cells to get the range they need, and those are still in development.”
─ Jim Mele, an analyst with Wards Intelligence

Considerations for Fleets

For trucking companies, the truck itself is not the only cost to consider. Transitioning to an electric fleet requires significant planning and investment. This includes:
Upgrading facilities for electrification (with considerations for facilities that are leased rather than owned)
Working with utility companies to determine power capacity and rates
Working with cities and local governments on incentives

Safety Is Just as Important as Cost Efficiency

At Spaulding Injury Law, our Georgia semi-truck accident attorneys stay on the cutting edge of commercial motor vehicle technologies and serve as watchdogs for the people. As the trucking industry explores new technologies for fuel-efficiency, we believe it also has a responsibility to ensure these new commercial motor vehicles are safe for the road to avoid traffic collisions in Georgia. Advances in trucking safety systems should be considered with any new fleet investment. When safety is not prioritized and a common type of truck accident occurs, trucking companies should be held accountable.

Spaulding Injury Law has offices across the state of Georgia. If you’ve been injured, and you’re not sure what to do after a semi-truck collision, please visit one of our truck accident law firms today:

We will be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have about your truck accident, and help you avoid mistakes that could affect your injury claim,




Spaulding Injury Law - The Future of Big Rig Semi-trucks: Diesel Vs. Electric - Infographic
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