How to Extend Electric Semi Truck Range With Aerodynamics

As electric vehicles (EVs) increase in popularity, many fleets in the trucking industry are considering electric semi trucks to increase sustainability and reduce emission levels. 

Electric trucks add new considerations to fleet management. Electric trucks have a limited range, which could negatively impact fleet efficiency. What happens if a truck is miles from home base, has a problem, and the battery is running low?

Extending the electric semi truck range can help fleets optimize efficiency and reduce risks. In this article, we’ll look closer at the electric semi truck range and explore ways to improve it.

What Is the Standard Semi Truck Range?

The range of a standard semi truck can vary depending on the size and number of its fuel tanks. Fuel tanks on these trucks commonly hold 110 to 150 gallons, and semi trucks typically have two.

Generally, semi trucks burn around six miles per gallon, making their expected range approximately 1,320 to 1,800 miles.

However, several factors can impact the range.

  • Weight: Heavy trucks burn more fuel, reducing mileage.
  • Terrain: High-incline roads increase fuel consumption, decreasing range.
  • Fuel tanks: Bigger and more spacious tanks increase available mileage and range.
  • Airflow: An aerodynamic truck consumes less fuel, resulting in a longer range.

What Is the Range of an Electric Semi Truck?

Like standard trucks, an electric semi truck’s range depends on factors like aerodynamics, terrain, and weight. However, two additional considerations unique to EVs are battery capacity and electric drivetrain efficiency.

By 2023, electric semi trucks will be available from several brands, including Tesla, Volvo, and Freightliner. Their ranges will vary based on the model.

Here are the specs on the top electric Class 8 trucks available in 2023:

MakeModelRange Charge Time
TeslaSemi500 mi.70% in 30 mins
VolvoVNR Electric275 mi.80% in 90 mins
FreightlinereCascadia155, 220, or 230 mi.0-80% in 90 mins
Peterbilt579EV150 mi.100% in 3 hrs

Electric Semi Truck Use Cases

Electric semi trucks excel in particular applications due to their shorter travel range than conventional semi trucks.

Specifically, electric trucks shine in urban delivery routes. These city routes offer more opportunities for regenerative braking and easy compliance with emissions regulations.

Additionally, port transportation is another strong fit for electric semi trucks, given the short and predictable trips between ports and nearby warehouses.

Can Aerodynamics Extend Electric Semi Truck Range?

At high speeds, overcoming drag accounts for about 65% of a typical heavy truck’s total energy consumption. As a result, reducing energy consumption is possible by improving aerodynamics—how air flows around the truck.

As EVs get more efficient, their batteries last longer. Enhanced battery life allows them to go farther between charges, effectively increasing range.

In terms of aerodynamics, electric semi trucks have a distinct advantage. Electric semis have greater design flexibility than conventional semi trucks, whose design revolves around the engine and drivetrain. The floor-mounted battery storage and smaller electric motors allow for more aerodynamic shapes. Their cooling systems also require fewer gaps and holes for radiators, reducing aerodynamic drag.

How to Increase the Range of an Electric Semi Truck

Aerodynamics plays a significant role in electric semi truck energy consumption. As such, reducing aerodynamic drag can extend their range. 

Here are three ways to increase electric semi truck range:

1. Close the Gap

Closing the gap between the tractor and trailer is a straightforward yet impactful way to improve aerodynamics. Reduced turbulence and drag translate to less energy consumption and a longer range. 

An automated gap reducer, such as TruckWings, is the optimal solution for closing this gap. This technology is proven to improve fuel economy by 3-6%, thereby noticeably extending the range of electric semi trucks.

2. Add Roof Fairings

Roof fairings provide a dual benefit: they not only improve the aerodynamics of your truck but are also a cost-effective way to increase range. These attachments streamline the truck’s shape, effectively reducing air resistance and energy consumption. 

Roof fairings are generally lightweight, easy to install, and can pay for themselves in fuel savings over time. Improving the truck’s overall efficiency extends the range and reduces operational costs.

3. Invest in a Battery Management System

Think of a Battery Management System (BMS) as the brain of your electric semi truck. It plays a critical role in maintaining and protecting the battery pack. A BMS measures parameters like cell voltage, temperature, and charging rates. 

But its capabilities go beyond simple monitoring—it actively balances the voltage between cells and manages the current drawn from each cell to maximize power and range. Plus, by preventing overcharging and over-discharging, a BMS ensures the longevity of your battery pack, protecting your investment in the long run.

Improve Your Fleet’s Semi Truck Range With TruckLabs

As more than half of the energy used by semi trucks goes toward pushing air away, reducing aerodynamic drag is essential. Aerodynamics is even more crucial in electric semi trucks since it can effectively increase range, thus improving fleet efficiency and reducing risk.

TruckWings is a solution that can significantly improve the aerodynamics of an electric semi truck, extending its range.

Check out TruckWings or contact us for more information about increasing your electric semi truck range by reducing aerodynamic drag.

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