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Roger Bedell
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Sure, the Pony Express only ran for two years, but its demise was primarily caused by the telegraph. The Pony Express was closed two days after the telegraph connected California to Nebraska. I very much hope the Pony Express method of tractor swapping will meet the same fate, with some magic battery giving 1000 miles of range to electric long haul trucks. However in the meantime, tractor swapping may be a useful stopgap measure in electrifying long haul trucks. Since the profitability increases as the difference in cost between electricity and diesel widens, we will implement this first in countries such as the UK and Sweden. The UK because it has high diesel taxes and reasonable electricity rates, and Sweden because it has fairly high diesel prices and extremely low electricity rates. The US probably needs a carbon tax to make electrification of long haul trucks economically attractive, because then natural gas loses its cost advantages. Powering trucks with natural gas is an unfortunate environmental choice, since burning NG emits plenty of CO2, and the inevitable methane losses counter any CO2 gains over burning diesel. As to the infrastructure expense of Pony Express tractor swapping, it is much less than you might imagine (Opbrid makes charging stations you know), and the added expense of having 1.5X the number of tractors is actually not an expense. The extra tractors will be have the same mileage put on them, the fleet will simply last a couple years longer before needing replacement. If you compare tractor swapping to any other method of electrification of long haul trucks, it is by far the most cost effective. Plus, it meshes perfectly with driverless trucks, since a computer doesn't care how many times it stops. Pony Express tractor swapping can be implemented immediately, no new technology is needed. Of course, it favors large fleets, but so will driverless fleets. In a few years owner-operator will no longer exist as a business model.
These would be perfect for adding rapid charging. They have everything you need, just replace the batteries with fast charging LTO batteries, and a charging station, and voila. They can run on battery only most of the time, with the diesel kicking in only when needed as a backup. Practically no additional engineering, with a much bigger payback, instead of getting just 20-30% better fuel economy (still uses diesel you know!) , you could shift to almost 100% electric operation. What's the hold up? More info: * Electric operation with hybrid drive system * 20-30 percent lower diesel consumption and CO2 emissions * No emissions and practically silent during some stretches along the routes * One of the world’s largest lithium-ion batteries in use in a vehicle
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Mar 16, 2010