Ban sales of new diesel HGVs from 2040, say government advisers

Harry CockburnThu, 18 February 2021, 8:49 pm

Many manufacturers including Tesla, Volvo, DAF and MAN, are all looking to produce electric HGVs (Getty Images)
Many manufacturers including Tesla, Volvo, DAF and MAN, are all looking to produce electric HGVs (Getty Images)

The ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans will come into force in the UK in nine years’ time, but there is no such timescale in place for heavy goods vehicles.

Now the National Infrastructure Commission, which advises ministers, has said sales of diesel lorries should be banned from 2040 – 10 years later than their smaller road-using counterparts.

In November 2020 the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said the 2030 ban for cars and vans would help kick-start the electric vehicle (EV) market, which despite recent growth still only accounts for about 7 per cent of the sector in the UK.

The government also announced an investment of £1.3bn to install charge points in homes, streets and motorways across England in a bid to overcome consumer reluctance to adopt the cleaner technology.

At the time, the government said it would consult on a date for a similar phase out of combustion engines used in heavy goods vehicles.

In its annual monitoring report 2021, the NIC describes the move to cleaner transportation as an “urgent priority”.

“With almost a quarter of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions currently coming from surface transport, decarbonising travel by developing lower emission public transport systems and preparing for widescale use of electric vehicles is an urgent priority,” the report states.

“Electric vehicles offer a low carbon transport solution, are cheaper for consumers to run [and] reduce poor air quality,” it adds.

However, due to the technology available, creating powerful enough electric HGVs has long been considered more difficult due to the size of the batteries required.

Tesla is among the companies working towards producing an electric HGV, with prototypes of the model, called the Semi, already being tested on roads in the US.

Other major manufacturers including DAF, MAN, Scania and Swedish firms Volta and Volvo are all also developing and rolling out new electric HGVs.

“While the government has made good progress on the decarbonisation of cars and vans, it has made less progress on the decarbonisation of HGVs,” the NIC report says.

“There is an opportunity for government to demonstrate the same level of ambition it has shown with cars and vans by giving industry a clear goal for ending the sale of diesel-powered HGVs.”

It adds: “In 2021 the Commission hopes to see government … publish a comprehensive cross-modal freight strategy with a firm commitment to phase out diesel HGVs by 2040 along with detailed decarbonisation plans consulted on with the road haulage and logistics industry.”

A Department of Transport spokesperson said: “The government recognises that all transport modes,including heavy goods vehicles, must play their part in delivering net zero emissions by 2050.

“In November 2020, the prime minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution included a commitment to consult on a date for phasing out the sale of new diesel heavy goods vehicles. This will be published in the coming months.”