Reader Question: Electric Motors for Trucks?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Arthur asks: If a truck trailer had an electric motor it could increase fuel efficiency and control. If the power were to come from the tractor, which is already producing power, then we don’t need all the weight, expense, short life, hazardous waste, etc. of the batteries. How much power does it take? Would the tractor motor need a larger alternator or a large, heavy expensive generator?

My reply: I’m trying to understand your question! I think you’re asking about big rigs – commercial heavy trucks – and whether it would make sense to add an electric motor to the drivetrain. I don’t see how it would. The electric motor would duplicate effort, add complexity to the system – and weight.

As with electric cars, the better question to ask is: Why?

Why bother with electric anything? It isn’t necessary or needed and there are no practical advantages which aren’t outweighed by the disadvantages – which are several and serious.

Electric vehicles remind me of an old country saying about the guy who goes around the block to cross the street . . .

The real problem besetting truckers is government – which is systematically strangling their ability to work and earn a living. The government is killing off diesel big rig engines with regs subject to no reasonable cost-benefit analysis (as with car emissions regs) that seem to have been designed deliberately to destroy the industry. The drivers themselves are pecked bloody by regs limiting practically everything they are allowed to do.

It’s a wonder there’s any food at the store. Of course, many people just assume it appears there, magically – and don’t consider what would happen to them if the trucks stopped rolling.

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. I suppose in theory heavy trucks could use diesel generators and electric drive motors as do railroad locomotives. But they don’t so I suppose there must be no advantage at that level of weight.

    In theory heavy trucks could also use electric motors driving the trailer wheels for additional traction up steep and slippery slopes. But apparently tire chains and just waiting until the road is clear is a more economic solution.

  2. With all the massive regulations that truckers have to deal with, it’s amazing there hasn’t been a huge truckers strike. Of course it doesn’t help that some of the regs are at least partly written by the rent seeking large trucking companies in a attempt to push out the smaller operators.