We could be seeing far fewer diesel trucks on UK roads sooner than we expected. The switch to electric heavy goods vehicles is underway, with the Government set to phase out the sales of all new ‘non-zero emission’ trucks by 2035.

Transforming the Heavy Goods Sector with Electric HGVs for a Greener Future

The heavy goods sector is responsible for just under 20% of the UK’s transport CO2 emissions. With over 400,000 diesel HGVs on the roads today, the switch to electric could see a significant saving of 18.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of powering 2 million homes for an entire year. Research shows electric HGVs are more cost-effective than diesel based on the total cost of ownership; this takes into account the purchase price of the vehicle, as well as the energy and maintenance costs.

Trucks in the UK typically take shorter journeys than those in European countries due to Britain’s geographical and developmental factors. Recent studies show 65-75% of the UK’s heavy goods vehicles will be able to operate sustainably as electric without heavily relying on public charging points. The large population of electric HGVs set to take over Britain will only ever need to be charged at their home depot.

Director of Transport & Environment UK, Richard Hebditch, said: “The UK’s island geography and density mean lorries do relatively short journeys and the lion’s share of truck charging will happen in depots. Yes, we’ll need some public charging but we can make lots of progress now without the need for serried ranks of chargers at every motorway service station. The Government mustn’t miss the opportunity now to kick start the take-up of electric trucks.”

Whilst the Government has set a target date of 2035-2040 to phase out the sale of diesel HGVs, there is no detailed plan as to how the transition will take place. Richard Hebditch added, “Key to this is early support for those making the switch to battery electric trucks. This will cost money in the short-term and the Treasury needs to get behind this to help unlock the benefits for the UK economy in the long-run.”

Gridserve’s ‘Electric Freightway’: Revolutionising UK Road Freight with Rapid EV Charging Infrastructure

According to a recent article posted in October 2023, Gridserve, a British sustainable energy company, plans to lead a government-backed consortium to help decarbonise the UK’s road freight sector by 2030 under a project known as ‘Electric Freightway’. They aim to develop a bespoke network of EV charging infrastructure across motorway services, truck stops, and commercial depots to help the industry invest in the technology that is required to achieve the UK’s net zero emissions target.

Toddington Harper, CEO of Gridserve, explains, “The big issue so far has been people saying you need an electric truck to have the same 500-mile range as a diesel vehicle. To do so, would mean you’d need an enormous battery, which would mean you wouldn’t have the ability to transport the same amount of payload. However, that mindset changes if you’re able to charge that battery very quickly.

EU laws state drivers must not exceed 4.5 hours of driving without taking a 45-minute break; Gridserve has launched a plan to provide trucks with powerful EV chargers specifically designed for these 45-minute windows.

Navigating the Future for UK HGVs

Is it achievable? Only time will tell, but currently, diesel trucks persist as the predominant fuel for UK HGVs. As a transportation fuel, diesel offers excellent performance, safety features and efficiency for long-distance journeys. HGV drivers are crucial to our economy, they provide us with everything we need as a nation to live, from construction materials to the fuel we put in our cars and the food we put on our plates. Here at Truck Trading, we hope the Government does everything in their power to support HGV drivers in the inevitable transition to electric vehicles.

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