The Government should set a date for the ban of the sale of new diesel-powered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), which advises ministers, says the road freight sector needs “greater support and faster action” to decarbonise at the rate needed to meet the UK’s carbon emission goals.
The NIC's Annual Monitoring Report 2021 says the Government needs to publish a cross-modal freight strategy this year, with a firm commitment to phase out diesel HGVs by 2040, along with detailed decarbonisation plans consulted on with the road haulage and logistics industry.
The report states, "While the Government has made good progress on the decarbonisation of cars and vans, it has made less progress on the decarbonisation of HGVs. No commitments have yet been made regarding the phase out of diesel HGVs, but the Government has said it will consult on the subject this year.
"There is an opportunity for government to demonstrate the same level of ambition it has shown with cars and vans by giving industry a clear goal for ending the sale of diesel-powered HGVs."
Ministers are promising the freight strategy will be published this year, while a consultation on ending the sale of diesel HGVs is also expected to be launched.
Last year, the Committee of Climate Change recommended a 2040 phase-out of diesel HGVs if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero deadline. The CCC made the recommendation as part of its Sixth Carbon Budget report.
On the potential of a 2040 phaseout of diesel-powered HGVs, Volvo Trucks says its objective is to be fossil-free by 2040, and by 2030, it expects half of the trucks it sells in Europe to be electric. A spokesman said: “We believe the internal combustion engine (ICE) will also play an important role in 2040, provided it can run on energy from renewable sources, such as bio-LNG (liquid natural gas) and HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil).”
Volvo said it expects there will be “significant growth” in battery electric trucks for local and regional operations and, later this decade, for fuel cell electric trucks for longer and heavier jobs. Mercedes-Benz Trucks, meanwhile, aims to have all new vehicles in Europe, North America, and Japan ‘tank-to-wheel’ CO2-neutral by 2039.
“To achieve this, we’re focusing on battery power and hydrogen fuel cells,” explained a spokesman for Daimler Truck.
“(We want) a combination which enables us to offer customers the best vehicle options, dependent on application.
“Battery power is suited to lower cargo weights and shorter distances; fuel-cell power will be preferred for heavier loads and longer distances.”
MAN Truck & Bus also confirmed it will be offering hydrogen and all electric models in the future to help the freight industry switch to zero emissions.
The manufacturer already offers series production of the MAN Lion's City E and eTGE as well as the eTGM electric distribution truck. Its all-electric truck is expected to be launched in 2023.