Electric Heavy Goods Vehicles? Industry perspectives on the prospects for their adoption in the UK

Bringing together leading logistics providers, high street names and leading hauliers, the eFREIGHT 2030 consortium was selected to join the UK Government’s Zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme.

Led by Voltempo, developers of the British designed and manufactured electric HGV megawatt charging system, the eFREIGHT 2030 consortium aims to stimulate the deployment of long haul zero emission HGVs with a multi-year demonstration of 40 – 44t battery electric trucks, including the development of the required business models for scalable deployment and a network of dedicated infrastructure.

The eFREIGHT 2030 consortium will introduce 100 electric HGV 4×2 and 6×2 tractor units, and 32 new charging locations, all of which will have megawatt-charging capacity from day one.

This report summarises the findings of qualitative research carried out by Energy Systems Catapult, commissioned by Voltempo, to explore the potential for the UK road freight sector to transition to Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions in its Heavy Goods Vehicle operations.

The research consisted of semi-structured interviews with managers involved in sustainability strategy within organisations operating HGVs in the UK, and one interview with a manager from a major HGV manufacturer.

The project objectives were:

  1. To characterise HGV operators’ sustainability strategies, their key features, and the roles of zero emission HGVs within them
  2. To identify the key benefits and drawbacks that HGV operators see from zero emission vehicles (HGVs)
  3. To identify HGV operators’ perceptions of the barriers to acquiring and operating zero emission HGVs, now and in the future
  4. To characterise HGV operators’ requirements for charging infrastructure if they were to transition to electric HGVs.

Key findings

The conclusions of the study were:

  • Operators accept there will be a need to transition their HGV fleets to net zero carbon emissions; some aim to achieve this by 2035, others will be later, some potentially getting there only by 2050
  • Most operators believe they will achieve net zero largely through adoption of eHGVs, which will by 2030-2035 be able to replace all but the largest vehicles on all but the longest routes
  • There may be a niche role for hydrogen FCV trucks in the largest size category on the longest routes
  • Alternative fuels will only play an interim role in the transition
  • Most operators will recharge their vehicles at home bases, but there will also be a role for recharging facilities on the strategic road network
  • The cost and availability at the right locations of power for recharging is seen as potentially the biggest issue for a timely transition
  • Major changes to operating patterns (including schedules, routes, break times, and number of vehicles being operated) will be necessary
  • Government will need to support the sector in making this transition, both by changing regulations around allowed vehicle weights and dimensions for eHGVs, and in mitigating the high costs to operators of making the transition
  • The cost and complexity of the transition will likely result in major restructuring of the road freight sector, with the distribution of fleet sizes becoming increasingly skewed towards larger fleets.

Read the Report

Electric Heavy Goods Vehicles? Industry perspectives on the prospects for their adoption in the UK

Clean Tech Engineering - Transport

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