When it comes to trucks, diesel has been the engine of choice for many years. However, with advances in electric vehicle technology, some truck manufacturers are now offering electric trucks as an alternative. But do electric trucks have more torque than diesel?
Electric trucks generally have more torque than diesel, especially at lower speeds. At high speeds, electric motors experience back EMF, a resistive voltage that lowers the torque. Therefore, diesel engines produce more torque at higher speeds.
So, which would serve you better between the two? To help you make a decision, I’ve compared electric and diesel trucks in several key areas. Read on to learn more.
Electric Motors vs Diesel Engines: Torque Comparison
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a heavy-duty truck is torque. Torque is a measure of an engine’s twisting force and is key to determining a truck’s pulling power.
In general, electric motors have more torque than diesel engines. However, there are some important exceptions to this rule. Here’s a closer look at the torque comparison between electric motors and diesel engines.
Electric Motors Deliver Instant Torque
One distinguishing feature of electric motors is that they deliver their full torque instantly. That’s in contrast to diesel engines, which need time to build up torque.
Electric motors are powered by electricity, which means they can respond much faster than diesel engines, which need to build up compression to produce power. For that reason, electric trucks are often more responsive than their diesel counterparts, particularly when accelerating from a stop.
Electric Motors Have Higher Torque at Low Speeds
Another advantage of electric motors is that they tend to have higher torque at lower speeds. That’s because electric motors generate their maximum torque at zero rpm. Because of that, EVs are ideal for stop-and-go driving conditions, such as in city traffic.
On the other hand, diesel engines don’t reach their peak torque until they’ve reached a higher speed. That makes them better suited for highway driving.
Diesel Engines Have More Torque at High Speeds
While electric motors produce more torque at low speeds, diesel engines have an advantage when it comes to high-speed torque. That’s because diesel engines produce more power at higher rpm.
For that reason, diesel trucks can often tow more than electric trucks. Electric trucks can haul heavy loads, but they may not be able to do so at the same high speeds as diesel trucks.
To understand this flip in torque, let’s look at an interesting phenomenon electric motors experience at higher RPMs: “back EMF.”
In simple terms, back EMF is a voltage that’s generated by an electric motor when it’s spinning quickly. This voltage opposes the applied voltage, which reduces the motor’s torque. So, while electric motors have more torque at low speeds, they actually have less torque at high speeds.
Diesel engines don’t experience this phenomenon because they’re not powered by electricity. For that reason, they can maintain their peak torque at higher speeds.
Electric vs Diesel Trucks: Which Should You Choose?
Now that you know how the torque of electric and diesel trucks compare, you may be wondering which one is right for you. Here’s a rule I recommend:
If you’re looking for a truck that can accelerate quickly and tow heavy loads, a diesel truck may be the best option. If you’re looking for a quiet truck with lower operating costs, an electric truck may be the better choice.
Ultimately, the best decision is the one that meets your needs in the most efficient way possible. Remember to research and talk to experts before making a decision. With the right information, you can choose the best truck for your needs. For starters, be sure to compare their pros and cons, which I’ll highlight below:
Electric Trucks Pros
- Friendly to the environment. Electric trucks produce zero emissions, which is great news for the environment. However, the EPA reports that they can indirectly contribute to carbon pollution if the local power is generated from fossil fuels. But, in areas with renewable energy sources, electric trucks are much cleaner than their diesel counterparts.
- Lower operating costs. Electric trucks cost less to operate than diesel trucks. The cost of electricity is cheaper than the price of diesel, and electric vehicles have fewer parts that require maintenance or replacement. For example, electric trucks don’t have oil filters, spark plugs, or exhaust systems.
- Quiet. Electric trucks are much quieter than their diesel counterparts, reducing noise pollution and making city streets more pleasant for pedestrians and residents.
Electric Trucks Cons
- Limited range. Electric trucks have a limited range before needing to be recharged, which may not be suitable for long-distance hauling.
- Recharging time. It can take several hours to recharge an electric truck, which may not be practical for some trucking operations.
- High initial cost. Electric trucks can cost more than twice as much as diesel trucks, making them a significant investment.
Diesel Truck Pros
- Lower initial cost. Diesel trucks cost significantly less than electric trucks, making them a more affordable option for trucking operations.
- Longer range. Diesel trucks can travel further on a tank of fuel than electric trucks, making them better suited for long-distance hauling.
- Refueling time. Refueling a diesel truck only takes a few minutes, which is more practical for some trucking operations.
- Higher torque at higher speeds. As I mentioned, diesel trucks have more torque at higher speeds than electric trucks, making them better suited for towing and hauling heavy loads.
Diesel Truck Cons
- Polluting. Diesel trucks produce harmful emissions that can negatively impact air quality.
- Noisy. Diesel trucks are significantly louder than electric trucks, which can be a nuisance for residents and pedestrians.
- Higher operating costs. Diesel trucks cost more to operate than electric trucks. The price of diesel is higher than the cost of electricity, and diesel trucks require more maintenance than electric trucks. For example, diesel trucks must have their oil changed, air filters replaced, and emission systems serviced at specified intervals.
Here’s a cool video that may come in handy if you need a detailed comparison of diesel and electric trucks:
The Bottom Line
Electric trucks have more torque than diesel trucks, but the trends reverse at higher speeds. If you’re looking for a truck that’s more responsive and easier to drive in stop-and-go traffic, then an electric truck may be the way to go. However, a diesel truck may be a better option if you need a truck that can tow heavy loads at high speeds.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you’ll be using your truck for most often and your priorities.