Key messages from the Taskforce

This pathway is based around the four key challenges posed by a move to zero emission trucks:

  • energy infrastructure
  • financial models
  • confidence in technological and commercial change
  • workforce skills.

The challenge sections include learning on emerging solutions and the specific actions that Taskforce members will take over the next few years.

In addition, the Taskforce has collectively come to three important conclusions which must shape all further action:

None of us can do this alone - working collaboratively is essential

We must continue to collaborate effectively, sharing learning and technological or financial innovation wherever possible across haulage, energy, finance, government, manufacturing and skills sectors. To ensure a Just Transition, all actors within all supply chains, upstream and downstream, have a collective responsibility to understand the complexity of the change required; to invest in overcoming the hurdles to decarbonisation; and to adapt to different ways of doing things to enable the transition.

Where the technology is proven and commercially viable, haulage, energy and finance businesses should be transitioning now

Battery electric HGVs are already available for smaller urban and back to base operations. Leasing and pay by use options are developing. Depot charging, while complex, is increasingly well explored for heavy vehicles with a range of intermediary firms available to liaise with DNOs (Distribution Network Operators) and (where required) offer financial models to support it. Such operations should transition to battery electric as soon as is feasible.

Long distance heavy haulage firms should be exploring whether battery electric or hydrogen is most likely to suit their operations and beginning energy infrastructure preparations accordingly. Long distance battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are at trial/prototype stage and expected to come to market at scale in 2–5 years where energy infrastructure and demand are in place. Further steps to encourage and enable roll-out of zero emission heavy HGVs will be collectively considered at that point, taking into account progress towards shifting freight to rail and water where possible.

Action is needed to enable smaller fleet operators to collaborate, reducing risk and opening up opportunities

Small hauliers are vital to the wider haulage ecosystem. Larger firms should consider offering access (for a reasonable price) to energy infrastructure or other assistance which enables peers to decarbonise faster.

Small fleet operators should begin their transition as soon as they can, learning from larger fleets and exploring opportunities to act. This may include allying with other transport operators (e.g. HGV, coach, van or public sector) to develop shared projects at a scale which will attract commercial investment or improve viability in other ways. Small companies are less able to afford or absorb risk and will require mechanisms to share learning and participate in projects which scale up demand for vehicles and/or infrastructure.