It may be a while yet before long-haul electric semi-trucks catch up to current and forthcoming ICE technology in terms of total cost of ownership.

An analysis concluded that while short- and medium-haul trucks powered by alternative fuels may be closing in on the break-even point, long-haul still has a way to go, with high-efficiency diesel models still outperforming BEVs in total cost of ownership, FreightWaves reports. 

While Tesla claims that its all-electric semi will perform better and cost less than diesel-powered competitors, it remains to be seen just how that bears out in reality, as S&P Global Platts Analytics projects that BEV purchase premiums will work against their ultimate cost-competitiveness, even as far out as 2030.

"BEV semis are expected to still have a prohibitively expensive purchase price premium in the long haul segment," the report says. "While reduced operational costs do improve the competitiveness of the drivetrain with increasing cumulative mileage, this is not enough to make the average BEV cost-competitive with an anticipated high-efficiency diesel semi."

In fact, the analysis even favors fuel-cell electrics over battery-powered trucks. The average purchase price of an FCEV is expected to fall in line with diesel more quickly than that of an EV, but the high cost of hydrogen production, transmission and dispensing remains a confounding factor. 

The script flips with short- and medium-haul routes, the report says, as regional routes require only half the range capacity of long-haul, which would mean cheaper batteries and thus cheaper trucks. With lower purchase prices, long-term running costs then favor BEV over FCEV or even diesel. 

Both the aforementioned future Tesla and Daimler's soft-launched BEV semi suffer compared to diesel in the range department. Even Tesla's claim of 500 miles (which Daimler finds lofty) is only half that of a diesel equivalent.

Even if Tesla's truck performs as well as the company claims, it is unlikely that brisk acceleration and quieter running alone will sway many long-haul operators if the price isn't right. If Tesla can't deliver on its promises with regard to price, heavy government subsidies may be required to incentivize adoption of long-haul BEV trucks.