More zero emission trucks are due to hit UK roads with £200 million government funding. The cash will be used to roll out up to 370 zero emission HGVs in partnership with Innovate UK, who will deliver around 57 refuelling and electric charging sites.
The funding was announced by roads minister Richard Holden’s visit to Voltempo in Birmingham this week, one of the recipients of the cash, and whose eFREIGHT 2030 project is set to create up to 200 new jobs by 2030.
Funding will also be used by retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer to lower their transport emissions while protecting them from rising delivery costs associated with changing petrol and diesel prices. The hope is this could impact the cost of living in a positive way.
An additional £2.4m has also been unlocked through the second round of the Freight Innovation Fund (FIF). As part of the fund, the FIF Accelerator – open for applications from today (October 19) – will help up to 10 SMEs develop new ways to make freight greener, more efficient, and more resilient. Freight Week will also see the launch of two Calls for Evidence to continue exploring new ways for the freight industry to decarbonise and become more efficient.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “From boosting zero emission tech across freight to attracting the future generation of talent to the industry, we are working hard to drive innovation, create jobs and grow the economy by building a brighter, more innovative future for one of our most crucial industries.”
Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman said: “The UK is at the forefront of the global transition to net zero, and today marks another important milestone to decarbonise freight, one of the economy’s most vital industries.
Richard Smith, Managing Director of the RHA, said: “The £200 million commitment Ministers are putting into this demonstrator significantly helps to de-risk the transition to Net Zero. The real-world demonstrators will answer many of the practical questions operators have and, in turn, give our members the confidence to invest in the zero emission lorries needed to drive down carbon emissions from our sector.”
Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “The £200 million in Government funding will develop world-leading battery and hydrogen trucks and demonstrate at a large scale, creating greener jobs, and boosting our net zero economy.”
Nicola Yates OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Connected Places Catapult said: “Freight is a crucial sector for the UK and contributes around £127 billion to the economy, but it is not without its challenges. Reducing the sector’s carbon footprint, cutting journey times and easing traffic congestion are key areas of focus, alongside the development of efficient and better-connected logistics hubs.”
Michael Boxwell, Project Director of eFREIGHT 2030, said: “By early 2026, we will have eleven fleets deploying electric HGVs, and a nationwide HGV charging network using British built chargers. Each charge hub will provide at least six charge bays and 1,000kW charging. This demonstration programme combined with world-class infrastructure will give fleet operators confidence they can deploy electric HGVs at scale.”
A new working group – which is being run by RECHARGE UK (the EV arm of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) – recently laid out a set of objectives designed to help speed up the electrification of HGVs and commercial fleets.
The group is being chaired by Neil Durno, Truck & Commercial Fleet – New Business Manager at SWARCO Smart Charging.
In response to the Government announcement, he said: ”I welcome the announcement grant funding for the road freight sector, including the zero emission truck demonstrator fund (ZERFD) which has been made this morning and provides very encouraging initial information about the award of around £200 million to a number of consortia to create a network of chargers at nearly 60 locations across the UK and over 350 electric trucks to start the sector decarbonising freight, providing insight and confidence to the market that zero emission heavy goods vehicles are viable and reliable alternatives to diesel fleet.
”I congratulate the successful bidders and member organisations for their ambitions and commitments to this long-term demonstrator programme and look forward to hearing more about the details of how and when the programmes will complete facilities development and move in to vehicle the operations phase.
”At our recent HGV and Commercial Fleet working group the RECHARGE UK team heard directly from DFT and are reassured by the statement that the funding will enable SME fleet operators to benefit from use of some of the charging facilities being funded, and that they are not all exclusively for member consortia members.
”It is easy to overlook that there is more to today’s announcement than the ZERFD fund. The Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator will provide around £7M for further exploration of other aspects of development of zero emission freight in city and rural environments. Two consultations have also been announced to gather industry views on HGV Strategy and some specialist vehicle requirements.
”Transitioning To the future of freight is a 20 year programme for which these latest announcements make a strong, positive statement that UK Government is working with the sector to support and share the challenges of early development of this crucial aspect of our net zero / emissions reduction goals.”
Image from Shutterstock