An Honest Look at Electric Semi Trucks

Lots of people are talking about Electric vehicles and their future in the trucking industry, but where do they stand today? What are the benefits and drawbacks of electric vehicles, what industries should consider adding them to their fleet – and in what capacity? Well, let’s take an honest look at electric vehicles.

The power and capabilities of electric vehicles will obviously change based on the model and manufacturer. But to give us a decent idea, let’s compare the International eMV, an electric vehicle, to the International MV, its diesel engine counterpart. (Show created table comparing eMV specs to the MV specs). As you can see, after making some conversions, the towing capacity, engine horsepower, axle capacity and so on are all relatively similar. You’re getting the same amount of power from an electric vehicle as you are a diesel one.

So, if that’s similar, what are the key differences? Well, let’s look pros and cons.

Fuel Costs

The actual cost per km is still difficult to nail down definitively since the eMV is so new, and experts have been debating for a while just how much cheaper is it to fuel an electric vehicle compared to a diesel or gas-powered vehicle.

However, the overwhelming majority of studies point to electric vehicles saving you money on fuel costs in some capacity. Take this study done by the Washington Post. They compared the fuel costs of electric vehicles to gas vehicles in every US state. On the low end, vehicles were saving a few bucks per tank. But on the high end, vehicles were saving up to $80 per tank.

Now if you’re running a fleet of electric vehicles and need to invest in dedicated charging stations, this would increase the upfront costs. But from a purely maintenance cost, you can drive for less on electric vehicle than with a traditional one.

Engine Noise

At Maxim, we’ve actually ran this test before as you can check the link in the description for more (link to short comparing engine noise), but the noise an eclectic vehicle’s battery produces is next to nothing. So why is this a great feature? Well, apart from it being really cool that something so big can produce so little noise, it has quite a bit of practical application as well. When a diesel engine is running, particularly when you have multiple trucks running at once, it can become difficult for workers to hear each other on the job site. However, that problem goes away completely with an electric vehicle. 

For example, here is a fully electric bucket truck body provided by Commercial Truck Equipment. As you can hear, I can call out to the people below me and they can hear me with ease (show footage).

Service and Maintenance

The more time your vehicles spend in the shop, the less revenue you can generate. So, it’s imperative you get your vehicles back on the road as soon as possible. As you can see, there’s less points to service on an electric vehicle, such as the eMV, compared to its diesel engine counterpart, and some of these points are even easier to service than their diesel vehicle counterparts.

That being said, not everything is simpler, and a big upfront cost that comes with servicing electric vehicles is having to train your technicians to deal with the new configurations. And because you’re dealing with a much more powerful battery, extra precautions need to be taken. However, once that bumpy road is cleared, ease of service and maintenance is relatively the same. 

Electric Dash/Diagnostics

Next, let’s talk about inside the cab and using an all-electric body. When everything is electric, it becomes a lot easier to set up the truck the way you want. You can customize your dash to show the features that are important to you and your industry, get diagnostic reports sent directly to your phone regarding any issues with your vehicle, and more.  

Electric vehicles and bodies also tend to come with additional features that are much more difficult to implement on traditional trucks and bodies. For example, you can see this electric bucket truck body has a large LED battery display on the body. Why is this useful? Well, when you’re up in your bucket, you can look down to see exactly how much battery life you have left, giving you a better idea of how much more work you can accomplish before packing it in for the day, saving you time and hassle.

Travel Distance

So for a few reasons, electric vehicles as they currently stand are designed to be in-city vehicles. 

First off, there’s regenerative braking. Now regenerative braking isn’t a brand new feature. On diesel vehicles, it just helps keep your battery charged. However, for electric vehicles, where your battery also functions as your engine, this means that electric vehicles can actually drive farther in-city where there’s more braking than on the highway or open road where braking is far less frequent.  

Secondly, as it currently stands, there isn’t a ton of infrastructure to support electric vehicles, such as charging stations, outside of major cities. On top of that, a fully charged battery tends to last you one working day. So taking that into account, along with the fact extreme cold and extreme heat can cause any battery’s life to fluctuate, electric vehicles won’t be the ones you use to transport goods across country or to drive out to a remote town four hours outside the city limits to do some maintenance work. However, that doesn’t mean electric vehicles don’t have their place.


Electric semi trucks tend to be more expensive up front. When including an electric body and infrastructure, they can be north of $100 to $200 grand more than their diesel engine counterparts. That may seem like a lot, and it is, but remember, electric vehicles can also end up saving companies money in the long run.

For starters, governments across the world are offering subsidies to companies who purchase electric vehicles. For example, in Canada, you can receive a $100,000 grant when purchasing one. 

On top of this, charging an electric vehicle is cheaper than filling it up with diesel. So, depending on how often you use your vehicles, you can end up saving thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per year on diesel alone.

So, in short, it’s a bigger upfront investment. But so long as you take care of your vehicles, it can end up saving you money in the long run.


So, do electric vehicles have their place? Absolutely. So long as you use them in-city, electric vehicles, such as the International eMV, have more than enough power to get the job done, and can include tons of incredible features that make your workday easier and more efficient.