Electric HGVs: zero-emissions deliveries ‘impossible’ by 2035, warns industry
SMMT says that shift from diesel to electric or hyrdogen HGVs won't happen without major investment in infrasctructure and incentives
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Switching Britain’s heavy delivery vehicles to zero emissions by 2035 is impossible under the current climate, according to a key motor industry body.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says that a lack of infrastructure means most logistics companies will not be able to decarbonise their lorries by the government’s target date.
It has warned that CO2 savings of more than 21 million tonnes per year are at risk because there is not a single dedicated electric charging or hydrogen refuelling site for HGVs on Britain’s major roads.
Under the government’s road to zero strategy, all new lorries weighing under 26 tonnes sold in the UK must be zero emission from 2035. That is the same timeframe as for passenger and light commercial vehicles but the SMMT warns that the HGV market is“two decades” behind the passenger car one.
Manufacturers are already producing electric-powered HGVs and working on hydrogen-fuelled models but the SMMT pointed out that just one in 600 trucks in operation in Britain is zero-emissions and said that without major investment in the support network, hauliers will not be able to run zero-emissions fleets.
It called on the government to devise a strategy within the next 12 months that focuses on the specific needs of the HGV sector in switching from diesel power. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With just over a decade until the UK begins to phase out new diesel trucks, we cannot afford to delay a strategy that will deliver the world’s first decarbonised HGV sector.
“Manufacturers are investing billions in electric and hydrogen vehicles that will deliver massive CO2 savings, and it is vital that operators making long-term decisions today have full confidence in these technologies, that they will be commercially viable and allow them to keep costs down for consumers.
“A successful transition requires a long-term plan to drive the rollout of a dedicated UK-wide HGV charging and fuelling network, combined with world-leading incentives to encourage uptake and attract model allocation – a plan that will keep a greener Britain on the move and globally competitive.”
Among key areas which the SMMT believes the government must focus on are a plan to support and coordinate the installation of public and depot-based charging and refuelling “in the right locations across all regions”. It also wants better incentives, pointing out that just eight of the 20 zero-emission models on the market are eligible for the Plug-in Truck Grant and the UK’s grant is a third of that offered in some other countries.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We are committed to decarbonising our freight sector while supporting jobs and economic growth.
“We are working closely with industry to support the rollout of zero emission HGVs on our roads, and we will be investing in projects to support that following our successful £20 million pilot.”