Hauliers warn 2040 zero-emission HGV target could be 'impossibly fast'

10 November 2021

Hauliers have called on the UK government to ramp up electric vehicle infrastructure to ensure its pledge for zero-emission HGVs by 2040 is not “impossibly fast”.

The government has said all new HGVs must have zero emissions by 2040, with non zero-emission HGVs weighing 26 tonnes or less phased out by 2035.

Trade body Logistics UK said it welcomed the certainty of the deadline but the government needed to provide support for the target to be reached.

Michelle Gardner, head of policy at Logistics UK, said: “Our members need to see a nationwide network of recharging and refuelling infrastructure put in place, effective and affordable vehicles made readily available for all, and fairer charging arrangements for the necessary power upgrades to commercial premises.”

She welcomed proposed derogations for certain specialist HGVs to allow technologies to develop but said it was disappointing vehicles using low-carbon fuels would not be available for sale after 2040.

“These fuels can act as effective, interim solutions while the technology for zero tailpipe emission HGVs matures; many of our members are keen to utilise these low-carbon alternatives,” said Gardner. “Logistics UK is therefore urging the government to give confidence to operators looking to invest in low carbon fuels through tax incentives and a clear policy framework.” 

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was concerned about timing of the phasing out of certain trucks from 2035 and firms needed proper phasing-in of new technology with realistic timescales.

The RHA urged ministers to ensure new diesel trucks are given a minimum use period of 15 years and called for accelerated investment in electric vehicle (EV) and hydrogen infrastructure.

Rod McKenzie, RHA managing director of policy and public affairs, said: “We support the government’s aim to decarbonise but the pace may be impossibly fast. Care is needed to ensure that all markets are served and future disruption to the supply chains are avoided.

“We would like the deadline extended for lorries over 18 tonnes by five years with support for hauliers in making the transition.”

McKenzie said proven alternatives to diesel for all uses, locations, ranges and the heaviest trucks did not yet exist.

“It will require continuous review of the timeline over coming years to ensure a sustainable and successful transition to zero tailpipe lorries,” he said.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the transition to zero emission transport had reached a tipping point.

“To support the transition to EVs, it’s integral that we have the infrastructure to support it,” he said. “My vision is for the UK to have one of the best EV infrastructure networks in the world, with excellent British design at its heart.”

The government showcased a new design for electric vehicle charge points at COP26, which it said prioritised inclusivity and ease of use, designed with consumers, local government, accessibility groups and industry.

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