The world’s largest fleet of zero emission HGVs will take to UK roads through plans to achieve cleaner air and greener jobs, while helping to keep costs down on consumer goods.
Transport Minister Trudy Harrison has revealed over £200 million of government funding will be injected into an extensive zero emission road freight demonstrator programme, at Logistics UK’s Future Logistics Conference that took place this week.
The three-year comparative programme will begin later this year to help decarbonise the UK’s freight industry with initial competitions for battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology launching shortly.
This could see hundreds more zero-emission HGVs rolled out across the nation and save the industry money, thanks to overall running costs of green vehicles being cheaper than petrol and diesel equivalents. More efficient deliveries will in turn enable haulage companies to keep the price of goods down and protect customers from rising costs.
The transition to zero-emission trucks will also help improve air quality, create greener jobs and deliver on COP26 pledges while reducing reliance on imports of foreign oil. Eliminating fossil fuels from road freight and improving the UK’s energy supply resilience will help to protect drivers and businesses from increasing global energy prices.
The demonstrations will help gather evidence on the future refuelling and recharging infrastructure needed to drive the smooth transition to a zero-emission freight sector by 2050.
Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “Our road freight industry is one of the most efficient in the world and contributes over £13 billion to the UK economy each year.
“But we must accelerate our journey towards our net zero goals, and we’re committed to leading the way globally on non-zero emission road vehicles. Our ambitious plans will continue to ensure food is stocked on the shelves and goods are supplied while eliminating fossil fuels from HGVs and making our freight sector green for good.”
The demonstrations will help the UK’s freight sector reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by finding which zero emission technologies are best suited to the heaviest road vehicles in the UK.
An open-call competition will be launched for manufacturers, energy providers and fleet and infrastructure operators to showcase their green technology on UK roads. This will begin with demonstrations of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell HGVs.
The announcement expands the Department for Transport’s (DfT) successful £20 million zero emission road freight trials which ran last year, delivered by Innovate UK.
As part of these trials, commercial vehicle manufacturer Leyland Trucks rolled out 20 DAF battery electric HGVs for use by public sector organisations, including the NHS and local authorities, to support the uptake of battery electric trucks, enabling learning to be gathered from field testing vehicles in a real-world, real-time logistics environment.
This project, along with six successful feasibility studies, helped prepare for the demonstrations, which will take place at scale over the coming years.
Michelle Gardner, Acting Deputy Director – Public Policy, Logistics UK, said: “Logistics businesses are committed to decarbonising their operations, but to ensure a smooth transition they need clarity on the path to zero tailpipe emission HGVs. The trials announced today will play a crucial role in identifying the right technological solutions to help enable this.
“Given the breadth of the vehicles used across the logistics sector and scale of innovation required to reach net zero Logistics UK is also pleased that government has launched a consultation to identify potential exemptions to the 2035 phase out date.”
During her speech in Farnborough, among industry leaders, Minister Harrison articulated plans to deliver on ambitious pledges made at COP26 last year that all new HGVs sold in the UK will be zero emission from 2040. This puts the UK on course to be the fastest G7 country to decarbonise its fleet of road vehicles.
This week, the DfT published the full response to a public consultation on phase out dates for the sale of new, non-zero emission HGVs, confirming the scale of our ambition to eliminate carbon emissions from road freight.
Further to this, DfT is fulfilling its commitment to consult with industry to identify potential exemptions to the 2035 phase out date for HGVs, weighing 26 tonnes and under, which may need longer to transition to zero emission technologies.
These announcements and investment reaffirm the government’s commitment to eliminating carbon emissions from road freight while supporting economic growth, improving air quality, and making UK towns and cities healthier places to live.