Electric vehicles (EV) are continuing to show themselves as an appropriate alternative to diesel and petrol. Despite other car sales slowing, 2020 saw the market for EV continue to increase, with transactions rising by 43 per cent to over 3 million new vehicles on the driveways of customers across the globe. Yet, the government focus on green transport has mainly been on electrifying cars, while the decarbonisation of haulage vehicles is often overlooked.
In 2018, the road freight sector accounted for 5 per cent of the UK carbon dioxide emissions, and 15 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from transportation. Switching to greener transport needs to consider the industry as a whole, not just cars.
So, what do EVs mean for the future of the haulage industry?
2020 saw the haulage industry take significant strides towards fossil fuel alternatives and how they begin to adopt electric technologies. The government has launched a consultation on emissions saving HGVS, and policy is now beginning to shift towards this type of technology.
Big players in the haulage industry are already taking the first move towards being more environmentally friendly. DHL recently launched their own 16-tonne electric Volvo truck for London deliveries. This is not a one-off though, as DHL has also announced a long-term business plan to hit zero emissions by 2050. Volvo has also announced that from 2021, they will sell a range of battery-electric trucks in Europe. These trucks will be used for distribution, refuse, regional transport and urban construction operations.
Volvo is not alone; other vehicle manufacturers are now beginning to embrace adopting EV technology for HGVs. Volkswagen, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz now all have electric trucks in development. Tesla is also moving focus to the haulage industry with their newest product, an electric ‘Cybertruck’ designed for heavy road haulage. These have already been pre-ordered by Walmart, PepsiCo and DHL.
Einride, a Swedish start-up, has gone one step further and developed an electric self-driving truck. Again, this has already received pre-orders from customers, including Coca-Cola Co and Electrolux. To move towards a greener future, electric haulage solutions need to be adopted industry-wide, and it’s promising to see so many companies taking positive steps.
However, manufacturers can only do so much. Policy makers will need to focus on implementing infrastructure to support hauliers moving towards EVs.
Interestingly, new government plans to build a network of e-highways by 2030 has the potential to eliminate the majority of carbon dioxide emissions from road freight. The e-highways will allow lorries to link to a pantograph which will supply electricity to change the lorry’s electric motor and recharge the onboard electric battery. E-highways will certainly make it easier for the haulage industry to move towards EVs. However, at a cost of almost £20 billion, it relies on the support of both policy makers and industry.
Education is also just as crucial, and policy makers will need to take this into consideration. Manufacturers need to be convinced that investing their time and money into EVs for haulage is a viable option. Solutions by policy makers must work with government and EV manufacturers to enable the haulage industry to achieve the necessary levels of profitability and productivity.
Education is one important aspect, while the other is implementation. The change in demand, both for the type of vehicle and the energy source, means that private sector companies must work together with the government to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and that the right processes are carried out to implement the change. Energy companies must be ready for the shift in demand, while vehicle manufacturers need to channel their efforts into making their electric vehicles a viable option, logistically and financially.
Now is the time to embrace EVs and their potential in the haulage industry. Having highly skilled specialists onboard will give your organisation a voice and influence in this changing industry. Our unique knowledge of these sectors, through existing relationships and high-profile search assignments, gives us an exclusive insight and ability to support your next search.
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