SMMT call for Government to make it easier for HGVs to switch to zero emission.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders used the opening day of the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham to highlight the problems faced by the industry in switching to zero emissions by the target date of 2035.

The SMMT have provided new analysis which shows that Britain’s strategic road network does not have a single HGV-dedicated electric charging or hydrogen filling point, making it impossible for most operators to even contemplate decarbonising their fleets.

They point out that the manufacture of HGVs below 26 tonnes has the same cut off date as the car and van sector, despite the fact that HGVs are two decades behind on the path to switching over. Furthermore there is currently a huge push to create a workable infrastructure for cars and van recharging yet there is no such enthusiasm to do the same for an HGV sector. A sector that is inevitably more prone to range anxiety thanks to long-haul journeys and time-sensitive if not perishable loads.

This perhaps explains why only one of every 600 trucks in the UK currently run on hydrogen or electricity.

The SMMT also call for financial assistance to help operators switch, pointing out that less than half the zero emission truck models on the market qualify for the Plug-in Truck Grant, which they claim is insufficient anyway.

The SMMT’s key recommendations are:

  • Suitable funding commitments to HGV decarbonisation
  • Competitive purchase incentives for zero emission trucks
  • A national plan for installing depot infrastructure
  • Deliver critical public and en-route infrastructure
  • A dedicated HGV infrastructure strategy by Spring 2024

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘With just over a decade until the UK begins to phase out new diesel trucks, we cannot afford to delay a strategy that will deliver the world’s first decarbonised HGV sector.

‘Manufacturers are investing billions in electric and hydrogen vehicles that will deliver massive CO2 savings, and it is vital that operators making long-term decisions today have full confidence in these technologies, that they will be commercially viable and allow them to keep costs down for consumers. A successful transition requires a long-term plan to drive the rollout of a dedicated UK-wide HGV charging and fuelling network, combined with world-leading incentives to encourage uptake and attract model allocation – a plan that will keep a greener Britain on the move and globally competitive.’


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