Smart Transport

Commercial vehicle industry calls for HGV decarbonisation plans

Truck on the road

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is urging the Government to develop a plan that facilitates the transition to zero emission HGVs, before it commits an end of sale date for conventionally fuelled trucks.

Europe’s truck manufacturers have agreed that new HGVs will be fossil fuel-free by 2040 and are investing in new powertrains to replace diesel.

However, there is currently no clear technology that can provide full zero emission operations for all weights and uses of HGVs, said the SMMT. 

The need to support powertrain research and infrastructure development has been underlined by a new report published today (August 31), Fuelling the fleet: Delivering commercial vehicle decarbonisation

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT), said: “The industry is committed to be fossil fuel free, but there is not yet a clear technology path for every weight class and every use case.

“Before it sets a deadline for the sector, the Government must support the technological development and market proposition and provide the right framework, so hauliers don’t defer their decarbonising decision to the last minute. Plans before bans is the key.”

The report reveals that the barriers currently associated with new technologies such as batteries and hydrogen meant that in 2020, only 0.2% of HGVs were alternatively fuelled – contrasted with cars, which reached this proportion in 2007.

Battery electric van usage, meanwhile, reached 0.3% in 2020 – the same proportion as cars in 2019. Uptake rates for electric vans have continued to grow rapidly, according to the research.

The SMMT said this reflects how battery power can replace fossil fuels in this vehicle class, but just 2.6% of new vans registered between January and July 2021 were battery electric vehicles (BEVs), compared to 8.2% of cars.

Hawes added: “Vans face fewer obstacles in this decarbonisation journey than HGVs but adoption rates remain low, driven by the lack of charging points and higher operating costs relative to diesel

“The new models are there, with many more coming, but without investment in incentives and infrastructure, the commercial vehicle sector will struggle to meet our shared ambition to reach net zero.”

'Develop a roadmap that supports UK manufacturers and the supply chain'

To accelerate the transition to fossil free commercial vehicles and their component parts, the report urges government to develop a roadmap that supports UK manufacturers and the supply chain.

It also states the UK needs a dedicated public HGV charging network to be rolled out urgently – as the ACEA forecasts that by 2030, the UK will need 8,200 public HGV charging points.

The SMMT said the workforce that maintains vehicles must have access and support for the training courses essential to high voltage and other system work and the industry needs a stable, long-term regulatory and fiscal strategy to deliver a zero emission HGV market.

The report can be accessed on the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders website

Our next event: Exploring the roadmap to decarbonising transport by 2050

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