‘Plans before bans’ for transition to zero-emission HGVs

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has today published a new report calling on Government to help the commercial vehicle industry transition to zero-emission HGVs, before it commits an end of sale date for conventionally fuelled trucks.

zero-emission HGVsWhile all of Europe’s major truck manufacturers have agreed that new HGVs will be fossil fuel-free by 2040 – and are investing billions in new powertrains to replace diesel – it warns that there is no clear technology that can provide full zero emission operations for all weights and uses of HGVs.

The need to support powertrain research and infrastructure development is the focus of a new report published today: Fuelling the Fleet: Delivering Commercial Vehicle Decarbonisation.

SMMT analysis reveals that the commercial, technological and operational 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, it adds.

Uptake rates for electric vans have continued to grow rapidly, reflecting how battery power can effectively 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.

Established manufacturers have already brought a range of fossil fuel-free HGVs and vans to market, while several new players have also entered the market with dedicated zero-emission commercial vehicle portfolios.

With new technology comes new opportunities and the UK, as a manufacturer, of vans, trucks and other HGVs must accelerate the transition to fossil fuel free commercial vehicles and their component parts.

The SMMT says that to achieve this, Government should develop a roadmap that supports UK manufacturers and the supply chain, creating a strong domestic market and helping companies seize the opportunities that emerge.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes 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.

“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.”

 

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