How Hybrid Engines Can Transform Long Haul Trucking

How Hybrid Engines Can Transform Long Haul Trucking

MIT has a hybrid engine that could transform long-haul trucking for the better. Not only will it help to overcome the weight penalty, but this engine is also a lot more affordable than the typical diesel units and still performs just as well in the same operating conditions.

MIT's Energy Initiative and Plasma Fusion and Science Center are who developed this hybrid engine system. Battery-powered heavy-duty trucks typically emit lower greenhouse gases and other pollutants compared to conventional diesel-powered trucks. 

Tesla had a plan to deliver sustainable heavy-duty trucking options with electric trucks in 2019, but that deadline has been pushed now into 2020. Walmart and other larger fleet operators have already placed orders for these trucks. Other manufacturers are also beginning to phase out the conventional internal combustion engine for long haul trucking routes.

Problem with Powering Electric Trucks

The biggest problem that still needs to be overcome, however, is the larger batteries that are required to power the trucks. It is estimated that the battery packs that long-range tractor-trailers will need will weigh approximately 10 tons. This will take up a considerable portion of the truck's overall weight. 

Other problems that need to be dealt with also include the limited charging infrastructure and the recharge time that is required for batteries of this size. 

Clean Spark Ignition

Hybrid systems also use clean spark ignition opposed to diesel's compression ignition. The spark ignition is stoichiometric which means it runs with the right amount of air in order to combust the fuel. It then takes advantage of catalytic converters that are ultimately much more efficient than the exhaust cleaning systems that are often used in diesel engines.

However, you will also see much higher maintenance costs for the hybrid because of the flex-fuel engine. But it will still remain more economically sound for longer haul trucking routes.

These new engines are being designed to run on gasoline, ethanol, methanol, or a blend of any of these fuel types. When it comes to comparing the costs and performance of these fuel options with diesel, you will find that they are worthy competitors. These options are much cleaner and have much lower NOx emissions.

Other Related Costs

Hybrid based powertrains are also much lighter and more affordable than diesel which means the price of this truck can be decreased by as much as $20,000. This makes it a more than attractive choice for truck owners and operators who are working hard to comply with emissions standards.


Finally, the fuels they are using are derived from renewable resources including from agricultural waste, which makes the environmental premium higher. The low emissions trucking options above are also highly adaptable. 

How is this going to transform long haul trucking?

Long haul electric trucks are a more commercially viable option because the costs will be significantly lower for shippers and carriers and are especially beneficial for owners and operators of smaller businesses that are working off of much lower margins.

Want more information on electric long haul trucking and how it can benefit you? Contact Spurlock in Lafayette, IN today.