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Truck Drivers’ experiences with electrified vehicles

Monday, June 24, 2024

In this interview with Jana Sochor, Senior Researcher at Chalmers, we share some intriguing findings from her work within the REEL project. Jana has spoken with truck drivers and transport managers about their transition from conventional to electric trucks.

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Initially, both transport managers and especially the drivers were skeptical about switching to electric trucks, particularly concerning motor performance and battery capacity. However, after driving the new vehicles, they became enthusiastic and now prefer them over their diesel counterparts. The drivers were pleasantly surprised by the powerful acceleration compared to their previous experiences with diesel trucks. This shift reflects a future that excites some in the transport industry while causing concern for others; some see it as an opportunity to be pioneers, while others are wary of the unknown.

Introduction to the new electrified vehicles

"The support and training for introducing new electrified vehicles to drivers vary significantly. It ranges from formal in-house training to simply handing over the keys without any instruction. This broad variation is fascinating to observe," says Jana.

At times, representatives from manufacturers like Volvo or Scania visit the haulage company to give a brief introduction to the vehicle, depending on the type of vehicle involved.

Work Environment

Regarding the work environment, drivers experience several personal benefits from electric vehicles, although most focus on short-term rather than long-term effects. Only a few have considered long-term benefits like preserving hearing, reducing exposure to exhaust fumes, and decreased fatigue due to the absence of background noise and constant engine hum. Interestingly, the quiet environment is not always mentioned spontaneously; it’s only when asked that drivers recognize it as an advantage, according to Jana.

"Once people get used to something, it’s easier to forget about it," Jana continues.

Many drivers reported that initially, it felt strange to drive a silent truck because engine noise was a clear indicator that the vehicle was running and how the engine was performing. Now, they must get used to other sounds they hadn’t noticed before. For those working in refuse trucks with two drivers, the quiet environment enables a new type of communication compared to the past.

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"It’s interesting that most drivers focused more on the societal environmental impacts rather than their own personal exposure to noise and emissions when asked about the benefits of driving electric. This could be due to the general rhetoric around electrification, which also emphasizes the societal-level consequences,"

says Jana Sochor, Senior Researcher at Chalmers.

Transport managers' work environment hasn’t been significantly affected by the shift to electric trucks, especially when fixed routes are used, allowing for an entire shift without charging and not having to consider electricity prices. However, most transport managers feel that planning tools are needed to manage new factors related to electric vehicles, such as charging times and locations, as their work will increasingly be affected as more electric vehicles join their fleets.

Jana’s Recommendations Moving Forward

It’s crucial to understand the differences between organizational levels and individual employees regarding the impact of new solutions. While strategists often prioritize technology and focus on overall benefits, different things are important for a transport manager or driver handling daily operations. Jana emphasizes the importance of support and introduction for drivers during the transition to electric vehicles and updated planning tools for transport managers. She suggests regular meetings to promote knowledge sharing among drivers and between drivers and others within the organization, highlighting that clear communication, even about personal benefits, is vital to increase acceptance of the change.


Andreas Josefsson

Andreas Josefsson

Fokusområdesansvarig Energiförsörjning till logistik
Nikita Zaiko

Nikita Zaiko

Innovations- och forskningsledare
Energiförsörjning & Elektromobilitet


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