Press Release

Electric HGVs will soon be cheaper overall than diesels in the UK

May 10, 2023

But the Government has still not set out a detailed plan to enable the transition to zero-emission trucks.

Battery electric trucks could start delivering more of the UK’s goods much earlier than previously thought, according to new research published today. The study, commissioned from industry experts Element Energy by Transport & Environment UK, shows that battery electric trucks can already start to replace diesel trucks for most uses in the next few years. 

City, urban and regional deliveries with rigid HGVs are on the cusp of being cheaper on a ‘total cost of ownership’ basis – factoring in purchase price, and energy and maintenance costs, even with the most pessimistic assumptions about fuel and battery prices – with battery electric trucks. Electric lorries will reach cost parity with diesel in the remaining use cases, including articulated supermarket deliveries, by the early 2030s. Battery electric truck models coming on to the market in the next year will be able to meet the required range and other operational needs of most truck uses in the UK.

Far fewer trucks will require public charge points away from their depots than has been suggested previously, the research finds. Trucks usually take shorter journeys in the UK compared to other European countries because of Britain’s island geography and dense pattern of development. Well over half of British HGVs will only ever need to be charged at their home depot, according to the study. 93% of the 400,000 truck chargers needed by 2050 will be for depots.

Richard Hebditch, director of Transport & Environment UK, said: “The UK’s island geography and density mean lorries do 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. The Government mustn’t miss the opportunity now to kick start the take-up of electric trucks.”

The researchers conclude that the Government’s 2035 and 2040 phase-out dates for sales of diesel HGVs can be achieved ahead of time. But the Government has still not set out a detailed plan to enable the transition to zero-emission trucks. To speed up the switch and reduce truck CO2 emissions and toxic air pollution, they recommend:

  1. Introducing interim ZEV mandates;
  2. Supporting UK supply chain development for battery electric trucks;
  3. Providing more effective vehicle acquisition incentives;
  4. Supporting the roll-out of private charging infrastructure for depot-based fleets;
  5. Lowering the early-years risks to public truck charging infrastructure providers through zero/low interest loans;
  6. Supporting public charging at major warehouses and logistics hubs;
  7. Considering changes to vehicle weight and length limits to support electric trucks;
  8. Reviewing where appropriate driver hours regulations and rest stops.

The recommendations have been endorsed by the UK Platform for Battery Electric Trucking, an advisory group of stakeholders which includes experts from: UPS, John Lewis Partnership, Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, GRIDSERVE, Zemo Partnership, and Element Energy.

Richard Hebditch said: “Our research shows that the UK’s phase-out dates for diesel trucks are very achievable, but the government has yet to set out a plan to make it happen. Key to this is early support for those making the switch to battery electric trucks. This will cost money in the short-term and the Treasury needs to get behind this to help unlock the benefits for the UK economy in the long-run.”

Read more:

Element Energy study, and recommendations by the UK Platform for Battery Electric Trucking

Notes to editors:

1. Transport & Environment UK is the UK arm of Transport & Environment, Europe’s independent expert in enabling clean transport for all. T&E UK works to end greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the UK, covering road transport, shipping and aviation. Set up in 2019, T&E UK supports policy makers with evidence-based solutions to decarbonise transport in the UK. 

2. Transport & Environment UK commissioned Element Energy to examine the techno-economic feasibility of accelerating the adoption of battery electric trucks with static charging infrastructure. The study evaluates a wide range of common operational profiles and develops optimal combinations of battery size, depot-based charging infrastructure, opportunity-charging at pick-up/delivery sites and, for those use cases that would need it, high-power public charging infrastructure. A large number of vehicle duty cycles have been studied, capturing (from a comprehensive dataset) a large and representative spread of different HGV operations, including those pushing the extremes of payload and journey distances.

3. The suite of research consists of:

    • Summary of policy recommendations, endorsed by members of the UK Platform for Battery Electric Trucking
    • Transport & Environment UK summary of the research
    • Full slide deck from Element Energy on phase one of the research on HGV use cases not needing public charging infrastructure
    • Full slide deck from Element Energy on phase two of the research on HGV use cases needing public charging infrastructure

4. ERM Group company, Element Energy is a strategic consultancy specialising in the intelligent analysis of low and zero carbon energy across all areas of the energy sector.

5. Definitions from total cost of ownership break even dates

Vehicle duty cycleDescription
Rigid urban parcel delivery7.5t rigid vehicles delivering parcels and collecting parcels within a single large urban area. One delivery round per day of around 100 km.
Rigid city shop delivery16t/18t rigid vehicles delivering from edge of city distribution centres to shops in large cities. 1-2 shifts of c. 60-80 km each per day.
Rigid urban convenience store deliveryDuty cycle and vehicle are similar to rigid city shop delivery, however a parasitic load from the chiller increases energy use/fuel consumption.
Regional rigid last mile contract logistics18t rigid vehicles delivering from distribution centres to shops. 200-300 km per day if single shifted, 300-400 km per day if double shifted. Vehicle and infrastructure needs are very similar to other rigid regional use cases.
Urban refuse collection26t refuse collection vehicles doing 2×30 km collections per day within a single large urban area. Drive cycle is very “stop-start” and vehicle has parasitic loads from crusher, leading to high fuel consumption.
Parcels artic trunking38t cubed-out vehicles delivering parcels from spoke to hub (and vice versa) once per day; c. 200 km each way.
Double decker DC-DC trunking44t double decker articulated vehicles, one shift per day delivering from distribution centre to another distribution centre. Either one long trip (250 km – 300 km each way), or two shorter trips.
24/7 regional supermarket delivery44t vehicles operating with 2 driver shifts per 24 hour period, delivering full loads from distribution centres to large supermarkets. Each driver shift could be either a long round trip of 300-400 km, or two shorter round trips.
Intensive regional artic supermarket delivery32t articulated vehicles delivering full loads from distribution centres to supermarkets. Duty cycle similar to 24/7 regional supermarket delivery but with reduced downtime and charging opportunities in between shifts.
Round-trip primary haulage44t articulated vehicles performing two shifts per day from a depot with a few pick up/drops offs on each shift – often delivering from factories to regional distribution centres


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