Emissions from trucks are growing. But clean, battery electric trucks are ready today - the UK needs to accelerate their adoption.

Delivering the goods on UK road freight decarbonisation

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) comprised around one fifth of UK transport emissions in the UK. In order for the UK to remain on its path to net zero by 2050 it must reduce its transport emissions as the sector is now the most significant contributor to its emissions. Part of achieving this would see 50% of all new HGVs on the road be zero emission by 2030.

19.2% of all transport emissions were generated by HGVs

1.64 billion tonnes of goods were lifted by UK-registered HGVs in the UK

175 billion tonne kilometres of goods were moved by UK-registered HGVs in the UK

What's ahead

Battery electric technology is the preferred technology of choice for decarbonisation of HGVs across a wide range of city and regional rigid uses. Not only is this technology more than capable of being used in this way, it could also do so without putting pressure on the public charging network, relying instead on depot charging as is already done with zero emissions buses. Articulated HGVs could also rely on depot charging but would also need further charging support at loading and unloading locations.

Currently the purchase of new non-zero emissions HGVs under 26 tonnes will be phased out by 2035 and the purchase of those over 26 tonnes will be phased out by 2040 which will see the UK’s road freight well on its way to net zero by 2050. However, there is still a need for near-term policy interventions as this will accelerate that transition by between two and five years, in order to make a stronger contribution to carbon budgets and air quality improvements while boosting economic growth and energy security.

A future with battery-electric trucks making up the entire HGV fleet is an achievable objective. But we need better than achievable. In order to ensure that HGVs in the UK are well ahead of existing commitments to phase out the sales of new non-zero emissions HGVs in 2035 and 2040, the UK needs to take a number of actions that will also come with a range of benefits.

Transport & Environment UK suggests measures to encourage the uptake of battery electric HGVs which include strengthening the phase-out dates by introducing interim zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates for HGVs, which would ensure there are sufficient zero emission trucks to supply demand, supporting supply chain development for battery electric trucks, which could also form a core pillar of the UK’s industrial strategy, and providing more financial support for zero emission HGV acquisition as costs in the short-term are currently high.

There are also essential infrastructural changes that T&E UK would also like to see which includes supporting in the roll-out of private charging infrastructure for depot-based fleets, lowering the early-years risks to public truck charging infrastructure providers, and funding truck public charging at major warehouses and develop planning policies to further incentivise charging infrastructure at logistics hubs.

There are also measures that would impact drivers and trucks directly such as changing to maximum vehicle weight and length regulations, and reviewing and amending where appropriate driver hours regulations and rest stops so they can make the most of charging stops.