Experts Say – Internal Combustion Engines in Heavy Trucks Will Survive Well Past 2045

Electrification is still happening in a big way.

2045 internal combustion engines big rig semi truck ev hybrid
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There is a lot of news and discussion about electrification in pickup trucks and commercial vehicles. The latest report from the ZF Fleet Advisory Board (FAB) in October 2022 predicts that internal combustion engines will continue to be utilized in heavy commercial trucks (such as long-haul semi-trucks) in 2045 and possibly beyond.

Take a look at the graphs below that predict fleet percentages. The upper graph refers to heavy commercial trucks, and the lower one is referring to buses. The purple line shows vehicles with internal combustion engines, including mild-hybrid, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The brighter line show battery-electric or fuel-cell-electric vehicles.

fleet advisory board zf commercial truck engine prediction
Fleet Advisory Board (FAB) & ZF

The first striking piece of information is that the FAB predicts the bus production of ICE-based powertrains to EVs to reach a 50/50 point around 2025. Then the ICE-based bus production reaches 0% around the year 2045.

On the other hand, the heavy commercial truck 50/50 ICE to EV equilibrium is predicted to happen in 2030. The graph shows at most 16% of ICE-based heavy trucks are still there in 2045 and possibly beyond.

What’s going on here? The information suggests that predictable and shorter driving routes done by buses are well suited for quicker EV adoption (including fuel-cell electric powertrains). Heavy trucks are a different story. While electrification can benefit some industries and segments of industries, internal combustion power will still be useful for decades to come.

Large semi-truck manufacturers continue to invest large amounts of resources into the development, improvement, and production of large turbo-diesel engines. Large component suppliers (such as ZF) continue to introduce automatic transmission and other powertrain improvements. Ford, GM, and Stellantis have not introduced any electrification plans for their Class-3 production pickup trucks yet. Although, Ram says that all of their pickup truck segments will see electrification by 2030.

Take a glimpse at the future of trucking in the video below.