Features & Interviews

Britain’s commercial vehicle sector takes centre stage

20 April 2023 #Features & Interviews

And that’s a wrap! The Commercial Vehicle Show for this year is complete, and the initial feedback from exhibitors and visitors has been fantastic. As you may have seen, BBC Breakfast was broadcasting live from the Truck Zone throughout Tuesday morning, discussing SMMT’s new paper on HGV charging and refuelling infrastructure and taking a closer look at the zero emission vehicles that will drive success. It was a prime time opportunity to underline the sector’s message that OEMs are making huge commitments to deliver new zero emission vehicles, in full view at the CV Show – yet the UK currently has no public, HGV-dedicated infrastructure to charge and refuel them.

Given that Britain also has a comparatively unattractive Plug-in Truck Grant, with better incentives in other European countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Finland and Italy, the UK has major barriers to overcome before all operators have the confidence to invest in an electric and hydrogen fleet. Operators will need greater support in order to meet the UK’s ambitious target to have the world’s first decarbonised truck market, and the clock is ticking, with the phase-out of non-zero emission HGVs weighing under 26 tonnes due in 2035 – the same end of sale date as that for the car and van sectors.

As a result, SMMT is calling for government to deliver a long-term HGV infrastructure strategy within the next 12 months that focuses on the specific infrastructural needs of trucks, such as their broad range of use cases, parking requirements and battery size, while minimising additional logistics costs that inevitably would be passed on to the consumer. The strategy must also set out a plan to support and coordinate the installation of public and depot-based charging and refuelling points, in the right locations across all regions of the country, along with planning reforms that support depot renovation and energy provision.

The CV Show ends today, and will be covered in detail in next week’s newsletter, but what has been clear since the first day is how much this event is valued by manufacturers across the sector, with 10 vehicle debuts and a range of product launches. Exhibitors have had direct discussions with media and buyers in attendance, while government stakeholders such as the Department for Transport also saw the latest products and solutions in the sector. I’m sure that we will see the dividends of everyone’s hard work – from the event organisers to the stand builders, exhibitors and theatre speakers – during the next 12 months.

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