New UK program aims to determine the best powertrains for zero-emission trucks
Which zero-emission technologies are best suited to the heaviest road vehicles? The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has announced over £200 million of new funding for a demonstrator program aimed at finding the answer.
Above: A Tesla Semi with high beams on. Photo: Tesla
The 3-year project will begin later this year, and initial competitions for battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology will be launching “shortly.”
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 HGVs (heavy goods vehicles).
At last year’s COP26 summit, the UK pledged that all new HGVs sold in the UK will be zero-emission from 2040.
“The transition to zero-emission trucks will help improve air quality, create greener jobs and deliver on COP26 pledges while reducing reliance on imports of foreign oil,” says the DfT. “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.”
The announcement expands the DfT’s zero-emission road freight trials which ran last year. Commercial vehicle manufacturer Leyland Trucks rolled out 20 DAF battery-electric HGVs. This project, along with 6 successful feasibility studies, helped prepare for the larger-scale demonstrations now planned.
“Our road freight industry is one of the most efficient in the world, but we must accelerate our journey towards our net zero goals,” said Transport Minister Trudy Harrison. “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.”
DfT recently published its response to a public consultation on phase-out dates for the sale of fossil-burning HGVs. The agency will consult with industry to identify potential exemptions to the 2035 phase-out date for HGVs weighing 26 tons and under, “which may need longer to transition to zero-emission technologies.”
“Logistics businesses are committed to decarbonizing their operations, but to ensure a smooth transition they need clarity on the path to zero tailpipe emission HGVs. The trials announced today will play a crucial role in identifying the right technological solutions to help enable this,” said Michelle Gardner, Acting Deputy Director of Public Policy at Logistics UK. “Given the breadth of the vehicles used across the logistics sector and scale of innovation required to reach net zero, Logistics UK is also pleased that government has launched a consultation to identify potential exemptions to the 2035 phase-out date.”