Smart Transport

Daf Trucks joins Smart Transport as latest member

Laurence Drake

The UK’s largest truck maker Daf has become a member of Smart Transport, the public-private organisation which connects policy to solutions.

Smart Transport membership facilitates relationships between senior transport public policymakers/advisers and the private sector transport mobility sector through 1-2-1 networking, collaboration and the sharing of information, opinion and analysis in a neutral and confidential environment.

Other private-sector members that are part of Smart Transport include ABB, ALD Automotive, AECOM, BP, Centrica, Enterprise, FedEx, Geotab, Heathrow, Liberty Charge, Macquarie Bank, Phil Jones Associates and Renault.

Laurence Drake, Daf Trucks managing director, (pictured) said joining Smart Transport as a member offers a fantastic opportunity for the road transport industry to bring together its collective expertise into a coherent, long-term strategy.

He said: “For me, Smart Transport necessitates ‘smart thinking’; encouragingly, the industry appears to have assembled some key stakeholders with, I hope, the ambition to think smartly about the fundamentals of transporting goods from A to B.

“Integration, cohesion, engagement – the only way that government and industry can devise a transport system that is both efficient and sustainable; a system that delivers the goods and services we all need, yet one which is future-proofed.”

Daf Trucks has invested millions of euros into sustainable manufacturing processes like its assembly plant in Leyland, which at the same time developing alternative drive systems for its vehicles.

The business and its parent company, PACCAR Inc, continue to develop electric-, hybrid- and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

However, the internal combustion engine will remain the predominant means of power for road transport – especially for heavy trucks – for many years, and quite possibly for decades.

Truck industry needs a gradual timescale for change

Drake said: “Put simply, diesel is presently the most viable option for truck operators.

“Alternative drive systems come at a cost, while immature infrastructures provide additional anxiety and operational constraints for nervous operators who might otherwise consider switching.

“Long-term reliability of hydrogen and electrification, and their respective whole-life-costs are also unproven in real-time.

“While they both offer a zero-emission solution at the tail-pipe, both electricity and hydrogen are today heavily reliant on fossil fuels for their production. The industry needs a gradual timescale for change.”

Daf Trucks is a proponent of HVO; hydro-treated vegetable oil.

HVO is bio-derived, synthetically manufactured diesel, available right now as a ‘drop-in’ fuel.  

It requires no vehicle modifications, nor alterations to service intervals, and, because it is produced from sustainable raw materials, it can deliver a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions from well-to-wheel.

While availability is currently limited, there is a growing number of suppliers and it can be distributed easily alongside fossil diesel or blended using the existing UK network of fuel stations – some 8,500 locations.

This is why Daf Trucks thinks HVO serves as a practical solution for operators who wish to cut CO2 emissions without incurring high levels of capital investment and where running costs are already known.

Drake would like to see an industry-wide adoption of HVO to bring reductions in net carbon emissions, supporting the Government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation while arguably buying time for development of the aforementioned infrastructures for electric and hydrogen.

He said: “We all share the vision of seeing these ultra-low and zero-emission vehicles on our roads, but updating the entire vehicle parc is likely to be many years away.

“Gradual steps, including the adoption of HVO (with government support to cut duty) would go a very long way to reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.

“I repeat my call for integrated, cohesive engagement where all of us bring to bear our collective expertise; to think about what our ultimate aims really are, and to chart a course toward the goal of a clean, sustainable and highly efficient supply chain.”

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