Charting the evolution of lower emission HGVs: from 2010 roadmap to 2038 vision

In 2010 a low carbon HGV technology roadmap predicted by 2050 the use of a hydrogen and low carbon fuel mixture. From 2025 the UK’s large-scale demonstrator aims to deploy almost 400 electric vehicles and hydrogen powered, zero emission trucks on the road. But what will things look like at the halfway mark, in 2038?

Posted on: 19/01/2024

Many used to believe it would be impossible for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) with regional and national operations to achieve zero emissions. In 2010 a technology roadmap for low carbon HGVs was published, predicting that by 2050 a mixture of hydrogen and low carbon fuels would be used:

“whilst electric vehicles are suitable for urban duty cycles, very low carbon HGVs will depend on the use of sustainable biofuels and efficient drivetrains.”

This roadmap relied on the information and technology available at the time, illustrating that forecasting future technology in this rapidly evolving space is challenging.

Fast forward to 2024 and the UK’s large-scale demonstrator is about to commence. Its aim is to deploy 310 electric vehicles (EVs) and 60 hydrogen powered, zero emission trucks (from 40 to 44 tonnes), to be on the road from 2025. The question is, what will 2038 look like?

Similar European programmes and commercial ventures are beginning to adopt zero emission technology for various N2 and N3 class HGVs. The UK is now expanding its focus beyond urban routes to include long-distance emission-free trucking.

One of the ways Innovate UK KTN can help accelerate zero emission freight solutions is by knowledge sharing; the system to plan, install and power infrastructure is complex with many moving parts.

To aid this, Innovate UK KTN is delivering a series of in person events and webinars to share lessons learnt and work together as an industry to accelerate change.

The discussions will revolve around learnings from real-world deployments that have already taken place across the UK and internationally.

In the coming months and years, Innovate UK KTN will be running many more engagement and knowledge sharing events. The aim is to include as many people and organisations as possible to foster cross sector knowledge transfer and innovation while removing the barriers to the operation of zero emission HGVs.

Phase out dates for sale of non-zero emissions HGVs are only 11 years away for vehicles up to 26 tonnes and 16 years away for vehicles over 40 tonnes. This is a similar time frame to that for EV cars registered between 2010 and now. The progress that could be made in the next 11 years is remarkable.

What will it look like in 2038? There are many factors to consider; it is unclear how battery technology will advance, how much electricity and thus hydrogen generation will change, and how logistics operations will change. What is clear is that knowledge transfer across sectors and on international platforms will be key to help accelerate our journey to zero emissions.

What do you think? To continue this discussion, get in touch with our zero emission mobility expert Simon Buckley or contact one of Innovate UK KTN’s Transport team to begin or continue your journey.

You can join us on 14 March 2024 at Manchester Central for an interactive workshop to discuss lessons from zero emission HGV and infrastructure deployments. lease read more about the event and express your interest below.

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