UK to invest £200M in fleet of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks

UK Transport Minister Trudy Harrison announced more than GBP200 million (US£244 million) of government funding will be injected into an extensive zero-emission road freight demonstrator program. The 3-year comparative programme will begin later this year to help decarbonize 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, due to overall running costs of green vehicles being cheaper than gasoline 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 government said. 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 refueling and recharging infrastructure needed to drive the smooth transition to a zero-emission freight sector by 2050.

Our road freight industry is one of the most efficient in the world and contributes over GBP13 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.

–Transport Minister Trudy Harrison

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 heavy-duty trucks.

The announcement expands the Department for Transport’s (DfT) successful GBP20-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 organizations, 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 6 successful feasibility studies, helped prepare for the demonstrations, which will take place at scale over the coming years.