Meeting - Setting the task - Zero Emission Truck Taskforce - 4 May 2022


Additional reports

Minutes of the Zero Emission Truck Taskforce – Meeting 1, 4 May 2022, 9.30 – 11.00


Scottish Government - Minister for Transport

  • Jenny Gilruth (Chair)

Ballard Motive Solutions

  • Ben Todd

British Vehicle and Licensing Association

  • Catherine Bowen


  • Mike Nugent

HV Systems

  • Stephanie Thomson

John G Russell

  • Ken Russell

Logistics UK

  • Seamus Leheny
  • Mags Simpson (Guest)

Menzies Distribution

  • Greg Michael

NEoT Capital

  • Aurelian Achard

Road Haulage Association

  • Chris Ashley


  • Barry Carruthers

Scottish Wholesale Association

  • Colin Smith

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

  • Sukky Choongh

SSE plc

  • Neil S.Arnott


  • Willie Thomson

Transport Scotland – Aviation, Maritime, Freight, Canals

  • Fran Pacitti

Transport Scotland – Low Carbon Economy

  • Stuart Greig (Co-chair)

Volvo Group

  • Neil Park

WH Malcolm Ltd

  • Gavin Summers

Ministerial welcome and setting of the task

The Minister for Transport welcomed members and stressed the importance of the road freight and logistics sector to Scotland, before setting the context and task for the the Taskforce. Her points included:

  • Recognition that in response to the global climate emergency there is a growing desire among Scottish fleet operators, customers and manufacturers alike to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move to zero emission vehicles.
  • Scottish Government is committed to ambitious climate change targets, set in the context of a Just Transition which secures good green jobs, builds resilience and infrastructure, and does not burden those least able to pay.
  • Taskforce members collectively have a deep understanding of the freight and logistics sectors; the emerging technologies; the future direction of our energy sector; the development of investible propositions; and the levers available to government to bring about change.
  • Welcoming the spirit of collaboration and innovation evident among members.
  • We must work closely with our European colleagues and ensure alignment with developments and standards there, and where the UK Government hold the levers for change the Minister will do what she can to ensure those levers are used effectively.
  • The Minister asked members to comprehensively explore the hurdles facing us and to set out the path that Scotland must take, not just to overcome these hurdles, but to do so in a way that enables operators and the supply chain to thrive; and to lock in every possible benefit for Scottish innovators and suppliers.
  • Smaller operators may not have the time or the capacity to invest into exploring possible options, or a depot in which they park their vehicles. The Taskforce should keep under consideration how to collectively support smaller operators and those in remote and rural areas access the knowledge and infrastructure they may need; and how their requirements may differ from larger fleets or those in urban areas.

Draft Terms of Reference

Members considered the draft Terms of Reference and raised the following points.

Will the Taskforce focus on goods vehicles or more than goods vehicles?

  • This group will focus on vehicles used for carrying goods, while recognising the synergies with a wide range of vehicles which use modified HGV bodies to deliver other functions (gritters, cranes etc). Transport Scotland already has work underway on heavy duty vehicles more broadly, and will ensure that links are made where this is helpful.
  • The impact on communities and future workforce is key. The industry needs new people and wider interest - recruitment and training are needed. This point was reinforced by others, and attention drawn to the need for skills training and appropriate facilities for supporting aftersales, maintenance, and the installation of infrastructure for new technologies such as hydrogen.


The role of skills will be made more explicit in the Terms of Reference and will form part of discussions throughout.

Exploring hurdles and opportunities

Members felt that Paper 2 succinctly covers issues identified in the background papers, with the addition that manufacturers are currently constrained by supply issues. Availability of vehicles may be a hurdle.

It was agreed that this should form the basis of the taskforce’s work plan for the coming 12 months; and that the pathway that the taskforce will co-design by the end of its life will take the form of a set of high-level actions required to recognise the opportunities / knock-down the hurdles

The following points were also made in discussion:

  • Where are the quick wins, what can we do now? There are waiting times for all vehicles; orders are not yet in place.
  • A focus on c20T-30T vehicles was suggested as an initial stepping stone. These are available now and there are zero emission Refuse Collection Vehicles and gritters already operational in Scotland.
  • The existing fleet needs to be managed in a sustainable way over its lifetime.
  • Vehicle capability is key – mileage between charges, payload.
  • Scotland is strong in vehicle adaptations.
  • There will be a spillover benefit – get it right for freight, and those skills and capacities can move to wider heavy duty vehicle applications.
  • Infrastructure is an opportunity – it then facilitates vehicles once they are available.
  • The taskforce need to find the right volume and scale to make propositions attractive to investors. The right level of project and right package of partners to last 8-10 years.
  • SMEs need support, the transition can’t solely be big operators – a Just Transition for industry. We need everyone to move at same pace,
  • While dimensions and weights of UK vehicles are a matter reserved to the UK government, changes may be required to accommodate batteries and full payloads.

Discussion on key elements to be incorporated in the taskforce’s Vision

  • The vision needs to be clear that there will be a delivery plan - something happens in 12 months to take it forward
  • Collaboration – none of us can do it alone
  • Real world data, as everything works on paper
  • Confidence, overcoming anxieties
  • Training and skills are vital
  • End user needs are key, has to be favourable – lifetime cost parity, not dissimilar to today
  • We want to see a Just transition, affordable to all
  • The benefits should be felt across sector/ industry

Draft work plan - Agreeing future topics and ways of working

The Taskforce agreed to focus on specific areas for the next three meetings, before taking stock.

Each meeting will be shaped by a working group (either taskforce members or delegated to relevant colleagues/ members) as follows:

Meeting 2 – Trials, data and supply chain – 23 June 2022

  • Ken Russell
  • Colin Smith
  • Ben Todd
  • Neil Park
  • HV Systems

Meeting 3 – Infrastructure – 25 August 2022

  • Barry Carruthers
  • Sukky Choongh
  • Neil Park
  • Catherine Bowen
  • Neil Arnott

Meeting 4 – Finance models – 13 October 2022

  • Aurelian Achard
  • Colin Smith
  • Catherine Bowen

Additional comments

  • It may be worth exploring ways in which small operators could aggregate demand, either through packaging up vehicle orders or some other route.
  • Aggregation of demand is also a good use of capex for infrastructure – regional clusters, shared infrastructure and shared risk.
  • Need to manage the process for the existing fleet, don’t want asset devaluation – vehicles have a relatively long lifespan.
  • Companies are actively considering the retrofitting of vehicles, but experience to date is that this is slow, complex and not an adequate solution.
  • There are potentially large costs for transitioning depots, operators need to understand the costs and any support available.
  • Companies often want their own infrastructure and control, but that may not make economic sense.
  • Skills sit across all these areas and should be brought out in each meeting.
  • Low carbon fuels – we need clarity on which ones and when they are appropriate as a transition technology
  • Interaction with commercial landlords is proving difficult when looking at transitioning depots – they don’t necessarily want a wholesale reconfiguration of the site and commercial lease agreements have to be renegotiated. We may need to consider the role of the planning process.

Calendar of dates

These were agreed.

Published Date 4 May 2022 Type Topic