The need for sustainability in the transport sector
The transport sector is the largest emitting sector in the UK economy, accounting for 34% of 2022’s carbon dioxide emissions. As highlighted by the Climate Change Committee’s briefing document: ‘The UK’s transition to electric vehicles’, overall emissions from transport must fall dramatically, and the freight/heavy-goods industry represents one of the most concerning barriers to meeting the 2030 Net Zero target. With this said Britain’s geography is well-suited to the electric lorry revolution. With trucks taking shorter journeys in the UK than elsewhere across the continent, it’s believed that over half of electronic HGVs and trucks in Britain would only require charging at their point of departure.
Richard Hebditch, director of Transport & Environment UK, said of the UK’s transition to electric HGVs: “The UK’s island geography and density mean lorries complete 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.”
Electric trucks are already available within the UK, with Renault, DAF, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Scania, and others producing e-trucks for the UK market. However, additional manufacturers have unveiled plans to join the e-truck marketplace in a move set to significantly increase the number of electric and hybrid-electric HGVs on British roads. At the beginning of the year, EV manufacturers Tevva announced plans to upscale their current electric lorry offerings with mass production of Britain’s first 7.5-tonne e-truck set for production in East Tilbury, Essex. On top of this, global e-mobility companies are looking to introduce their e-truck models worldwide:
- Toyota: The Japanese automotive giants are investing in e-trucks with multiple battery packs.
- Volvo: The Swedish multinational has set its sights on extended range, developing three truck sizes with a single-charge range of up to 320km.
- MAN: One of the largest global providers of commercial vehicles, the Traton Group is developing several e-truck offerings, the most powerful of which is the MAN eTruck.
- Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes have focussed on ultra-rapid charging in their eActros range.
The key benefits of electric trucks:
E-trucks share many of their advantages with the broader e-mobility industry, such as the reduction of emissions, the ability to enter low/zero emission zones, and the avoidance of fuel costs. However, the transportation sector faces unique challenges only resolved by electric trucks.
- Lifecycle sustainability: Around 90% of emissions from traditional diesel trucks come from their usage, whilst trucks running on electricity from renewable sources have a much lower emissions rate throughout their total lifecycle.
- Noise reduction: Due to noise concerns, some traditional HGVs can’t make deliveries during specific hours. E-trucks are significantly quieter than their diesel counterparts, meaning they can operate when diesel HGVs cannot. This noise reduction has positive implications for business efficiency and road congestion.
- Driver comfort: With their smoother, quieter engines, electric trucks provide a more comfortable experience for their drivers. A vast reduction in noise and vibration can greatly improve the overall long-distance driving experience.
Challenges facing the e-truck sector:
One of the preliminary concerns within the e-mobility sector is the availability of charging points. Charging point numbers must increase across Britain, with a focus on the nation’s major transport route as a primary concern for electric HGVs. As manufacturers improve their battery capabilities, fast charging is a foremost priority, as within the world of transportation, fast-charging batteries can considerably reduce the risk of delay.
Electric Trucks UK: Britain’s transportation future?
The global expectation is that truck fleets will gradually transition into the emerging e-truck space, with e-mobility eventually becoming the standard within the transportation sector. In short, electric-powered trucks are the future of British transportation, representing a breakthrough in sustainability, energy saving, and pollution reduction.