Hybrid Electric Trucks

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Hybrid electric trucks are commercial vehicles that combine an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor and battery pack. This combination allows them to operate in both electric and diesel modes, optimizing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

Impact on climate action

Hybrid Electric Trucks revolutionize low-carbon transportation by reducing emissions from freight. Their dual power system optimizes fuel efficiency, slashing greenhouse gas output and fostering a cleaner logistics sector. This innovation accelerates climate action by offering a tangible solution to mitigate the environmental impact of heavy-duty transportation.


  • Parallel Hybrid System: In a parallel hybrid system, the ICE and electric motor can both power the truck independently or work together. This allows the truck to utilize its electric motor for low-speed driving and regenerative braking, improving fuel efficiency.
  • Series Hybrid System: In a series hybrid system, the ICE generates electricity to power the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle. This system allows for greater fuel economy, but it may not be as powerful as a parallel hybrid system.
  • Battery Pack: A battery pack stores energy that can be used to power the electric motor, enabling electric-only operation for short distances and regenerative braking.
  • Battery Management System (BMS): A sophisticated BMS manages battery charging, ensures optimal performance, and protects the battery from degradation.

TRL : 7-8 (Widely Commercialized, with Ongoing Advancements)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Improved Battery Technology: Advancements in battery technology are increasing the capacity and lifespan of battery packs, extending the electric-only range of hybrid trucks.
  • Advanced Powertrain Management Systems: Sophisticated systems are being developed to optimize the interaction between the ICE and the electric motor, seamlessly switching between modes for optimal fuel efficiency and emission reduction.
  • Regenerative Braking: Hybrid trucks can capture energy during braking, using the electric motor as a generator to charge the battery, further improving fuel efficiency.
  • Smart Charging Systems: Smart charging technologies can optimize charging schedules for hybrid trucks, maximizing the use of off-peak electricity and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Integration with Renewable Energy: Hybrid trucks can be equipped with solar panels to generate additional electricity, further reducing emissions.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Parallel Hybrid Power Integration
  • Series Hybrid Propulsion Systems
  • Enhanced Battery Capacity
  • Battery Longevity Enhancements
  • Battery Management Innovations
  • Powertrain Optimization Technologies
  • Seamless Mode Switching Systems
  • Regenerative Braking Solutions
  • Energy Recapture Mechanisms
  • Smart Charging Infrastructure
  • Off-Peak Electricity Utilization
  • Fossil Fuel Reduction Strategies
  • Solar Panel Integration
  • Renewable Energy Synergy

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Tevva Motors:
    • Technology Focus: Tevva Motors specializes in developing hybrid and electric powertrain solutions for commercial vehicles, particularly trucks. Their focus is on creating hybrid electric systems that can significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to traditional diesel trucks.
    • Uniqueness: Tevva Motors stands out for its emphasis on range-extended electric powertrains, combining electric propulsion with an onboard range extender (usually a small combustion engine or fuel cell) to overcome the limitations of battery range in heavy-duty applications.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include urban delivery, logistics, and freight transport companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint and comply with increasingly stringent emissions regulations, particularly in urban areas.
  • Volvo Trucks:
    • Technology Focus: Volvo Trucks is a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks, including hybrid electric models. Their hybrid electric trucks feature a combination of electric and diesel powertrains, with advanced control systems optimizing power delivery based on driving conditions.
    • Uniqueness: Volvo Trucks is known for its commitment to sustainability and innovation in the commercial vehicle industry. Their hybrid electric trucks integrate seamlessly into existing fleets, offering significant fuel savings and emissions reductions without sacrificing performance or reliability.
    • End-User Segments: Volvo Trucks targets a wide range of industries and applications, including long-haul transport, construction, distribution, and municipal services, where reducing operating costs and environmental impact are paramount.
  • Daimler Trucks:
    • Technology Focus: Daimler Trucks, the parent company of brands like Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner, has been at the forefront of hybrid electric truck development. Their hybrid electric trucks leverage advanced drivetrain technology and intelligent energy management systems to optimize efficiency and performance.
    • Uniqueness: Daimler Trucks distinguishes itself through its extensive research and development efforts in electric and hybrid propulsion systems. They offer a range of hybrid electric models tailored to different applications and customer needs, from urban delivery to long-haul transport.
    • End-User Segments: Daimler Trucks serves a diverse customer base across various industries, including transportation and logistics companies, construction firms, and municipal authorities. Their hybrid electric trucks appeal to customers seeking sustainable transportation solutions without compromising on versatility or reliability.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of California, Berkeley:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at UC Berkeley are pioneering advancements in hybrid electric truck technology by focusing on the integration of renewable energy sources such as solar and kinetic energy recovery systems. They are developing innovative powertrain configurations and energy management strategies to maximize the efficiency and range of hybrid electric trucks.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Berkeley’s approach involves a holistic optimization of hybrid electric truck systems, considering factors such as vehicle weight, aerodynamics, and route planning. Their research emphasizes the development of customizable hybridization solutions tailored to the specific needs of different trucking applications, ranging from urban delivery fleets to long-haul transport.
    • End-use Applications: The research at UC Berkeley has significant implications for the transportation industry, particularly in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. Hybrid electric trucks developed through this research can be deployed across various sectors, including logistics, freight transportation, and public transit, facilitating the transition towards a more sustainable and low-carbon future.
  • Stanford University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Stanford University researchers are at the forefront of hybrid electric truck innovation, focusing on advancements in energy storage technologies such as high-capacity batteries and ultracapacitors. They are exploring novel materials and architectures to enhance the energy density, durability, and charging efficiency of energy storage systems in hybrid electric trucks.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Stanford’s research integrates principles of machine learning and optimization algorithms to optimize the operation and performance of hybrid electric trucks in real-world conditions. Their approach emphasizes predictive maintenance and adaptive control strategies to maximize the reliability and longevity of hybrid electric truck systems.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Stanford University has broad applications across the commercial transportation sector, including freight logistics, passenger transit, and municipal fleets. Hybrid electric trucks developed through this research offer reduced operating costs, lower emissions, and enhanced energy security, driving the adoption of sustainable transportation solutions on a global scale.
  • University of Michigan:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Michigan are focusing on the development of next-generation hybrid electric truck propulsion systems, leveraging innovations in power electronics, electric motors, and regenerative braking technology. They are exploring advanced control algorithms and hardware-in-the-loop simulation techniques to optimize the efficiency and performance of hybrid electric truck drivetrains.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Michigan’s research emphasizes the integration of hybrid electric truck technology with emerging trends such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connectivity and autonomous driving capabilities. Their approach aims to create a seamless and intelligent transportation ecosystem where hybrid electric trucks play a central role in optimizing energy use, grid stability, and traffic flow.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Michigan addresses the evolving needs of the freight transportation industry, offering solutions that enhance productivity, safety, and sustainability. Hybrid electric trucks developed through this research have applications in diverse sectors, including e-commerce fulfillment, last-mile delivery, and intermodal freight transport, driving innovation and competitiveness in the global supply chain.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hybrid electric trucks are already being commercially implemented in several markets, with a wide range of models available from major truck manufacturers. Volvo Trucks, Daimler Trucks, and several other companies are offering hybrid trucks for various applications, including urban deliveries and long-haul transport. Hybrid trucks represent a critical step in the transition to cleaner and more sustainable trucking fleets.