The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on government to work with industry to develop a plan that facilitates the transition to zero emission HGVs, before it commits an end of sale date for conventionally fuelled trucks.
The need to support powertrain research and infrastructure development has been underlined by its new report: Fuelling the Fleet: Delivering Commercial Vehicle Decarbonisation.
SMMT analysis has revealed that the commercial, technological and operational barriers currently associated with new technologies such as batteries and hydrogen meant that in 2020, only 0.2% of HGVs were alternatively fuelled – contrasted with cars, which reached this proportion in 2007.
All of Europe’s major truck manufacturers have agreed that new HGVs will be fossil fuel-free by 2040, and are investing billions in new powertrains to replace diesel, the most commonly used HGV fuel.
However, at present there is no clear technology that can provide full zero emission operations for all weights and uses of HGVs.
The organisation says decarbonising the commercial vehicle sector will need more support from government and other stakeholders outside the automotive industry.
Above all, the industry needs a stable, long-term regulatory and fiscal strategy to deliver a vibrant zero emission HGV market so that manufacturers and operators can confidently plan and prepare for the future.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The industry is committed to be fossil fuel-free, but there is not yet a clear technology path for every weight class and every use case.
“Before it sets a deadline for the sector, the government must support the technological development and market proposition and provide the right framework, so hauliers don’t defer their decarbonising decision to the last minute. Plans before bans is the key.
“Vans face fewer obstacles in this decarbonisation journey than HGVs but adoption rates remain low, driven by the lack of charging points and higher operating costs relative to diesel.
“The new models are there, with many more coming, but without investment in incentives and infrastructure, the commercial vehicle sector will struggle to meet our shared ambition to reach net zero.”