New phase of zero-emission truck drive unveiled

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Friday 20 October 2023

Renault Trucks will supply vehicles to two of the projects receiving DfT funding

The Department for Transport (DfT) yesterday revealed details of how its zero-emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme will be taken forward, through a £200 million investment in projects dedicated to getting more zero-emission trucks on the road.

The funding will see up to 370 zero-emission trucks rolled out across the country, says DfT, creating new jobs and providing crucial infrastructure to help the haulage sector decarbonise.

Delivered in partnership with public body Innovate UK, the money is set to be invested across four projects, and also deliver around 57 refuelling and electric charging sites.

The news, which has been welcomed by trade associations, follows sustained concern from elements of the transport industry around a perceived lack of progress on the infrastructure it requires in order to decarbonise.

Shortly before the announcement, the roads minister Richard Holden visited Birmingham-based Voltempo, one of the recipients of the funding, which is leading the eFreight 2030 project, set to provide the city with one of the country’s first EV charging hubs dedicated to HGVs.

The project is expected to create up to 200 new jobs by 2030, and will bring together leading logistics specialists, high street names and hauliers to demonstrate up to 100 battery-electric 40-44 tonne 4×2 and 6×2 tractor units, as well as a network of 32 megawatt capacity charging points.

Another funding recipient is Project Electric Freightway, led by Gridserve, comprising 33 consortium partners and member companies that will demonstrate a fleet of 140 battery electric HGVs alongside a network charging infrastructure of 220 megawatt chargers.

Renault Trucks has announced it will be among the manufacturers supplying vehicles to eFreight 2030 and Project Electric Freightway. It will provide trucks from its fully electric E-Tech T range.

Additionally, says Renault Trucks, eFreight 2030 will offer fleet operators and SMEs the opportunity to join as associate members with a number of electric trucks managed by leasing company Vertellus as an extension of its EV Discovery Programme to be available on a subscription basis.

The other recipients of funding are Project Zero Emission North (ZEN) Freight, which will demonstrate up to 70 battery-electric and 30 hydrogen fuel HGVs, according to Zemo Partnership, with operators including Eddie Stobart and Royal Mail; and Hydrogen Aggregated Logistics (HyHaul), led by Protium, which will see around 30 hydrogen fuel cell HGVs deployed on the M4, serviced by one fixed refuelling station and mobile refuelling in two further locations.

Minister Holden said: “Freight and logistics are the beating heart of our economy and it is only right that we celebrate the sector so that it gets the recognition and support it deserves.

“From boosting zero emission tech across freight to attracting the future generation of talent to the industry, we are working hard to drive innovation, create jobs and grow the economy by building a brighter, more innovative future for one of our most crucial industries.”

The decarbonisation minister, Jesse Norman, added: “The UK is at the forefront of the global transition to net zero and today marks another important milestone to decarbonise freight, one of the economy’s most vital industries.”

A further £2.4 million will also be assigned to small and medium businesses via the Freight Innovation Fund, a separate competition designed to boost innovation and green tech in the freight sector.

The measures followed a “week of action” which saw government ministers visit multiple stakeholders in the freight sector, to help understand how it could continue to drive innovation, create new jobs and grow the economy, as well as assisting the UK in its net zero goals.

Richard Smith, Road Haulage Association (RHA) managing director, commented: “We strongly welcome today’s announcement from the government on the zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme.

“The £200 million commitment ministers are putting into this demonstrator significantly helps to de-risk the transition to net zero. The real-world demonstrators will answer many of the practical questions operators have and, in turn, give our members the confidence to invest in the zero emission lorries needed to drive down carbon emissions from our sector.”

He said that the announcement sent a “clear and welcome signal” of the government’s determination to support the industry through “the difficult transition that lies ahead”.

“Delivery against the HGV phase out dates set by ministers will require close collaboration amongst the many stakeholders involved, and tough decisions may be necessary such as pragmatic exemptions to these dates and tax breaks to lower costs,” said Mr Smith.

“It is vital that all voices are heard so that informed choices can be made.

“We look forward to building on the outcomes arising from [the programme] to deliver a net zero which works for everybody.”

Logistics UK also praised decarbonisation measures announced yesterday, including the zero emission HGV funding.

Kate Jennings, director of policy, said: “We welcome government’s recognition of the how important freight is for creating new jobs, growing the economy and achieving net zero.

“It is encouraging to see government making long-awaited progress on its promises to help decarbonise our sector, including announcing the outcome of the zero emission HGV and Infrastructure competition. However ultimately, we need this progress to be faster, and support actioned promptly if we are to meet impending decarbonisation deadlines.”

Carlos Rodrigues, managing director, Renault Trucks UK & Ireland, said: “As a pioneer in electric mobility, Renault Trucks is pleased that the UK government is accelerating the decarbonisation of the commercial vehicle industry with essential funding through the ZERFD programme.

“We congratulate the successful consortiums, and are delighted to work with both eFreight 2030 and Project Electric Freightway to fast-track the transition to zero emission HGVs in the UK. We are looking forward to supplying our E-Tech T tractor units to operators in both consortiums, many of whom have already had successful experience with our electric rigids in their fleets.”

Project director of eFreight 2030, Michael Boxwell, said: “eFreight 2030 sets us on a journey to net zero within the heavy road freight industry. DfT support kick-starts the transformation, enabling us to create the charging infrastructure and bring in electric HGVs simultaneously.

“By early 2026, we will have 11 fleets deploying electric HGVs and a nationwide HGV charging network using British-built chargers. Each charge hub will provide at least 6 charge bays and 1,000kW charging. This demonstration programme combined with world-class infrastructure will give fleet operators confidence they can deploy electric HGVs at scale.”