CEO Update

Going big and green on Britain’s roads

17 May 2024 #CEO Update

Getting a greener Britain moving means getting the full spectrum of jobs that society and economy needs delivered by zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). From the household car and business van to whole fleets of trucks and buses, the entire road transport fleet must be decarbonised and industry is already doing all it can to deliver. SMMT’s latest figures, published this week, show just that, with rising rollout of the very greenest and biggest vehicles on our roads.

An uptick in demand for zero emission HGVs in the first quarter of 2024 saw operator demand rise by half, growth driven by manufacturer investment in cutting-edge, innovative products, new production lines, new skills and jobs. All major truck makers in Britain now have highly competitive electric model offerings, crucial given operators are typically loyal to their existing vehicle brand and will therefore now find zero emission alternatives upon renewing their fleet. Green uptake still represents just half a percent of the whole market, however, and the onus is on wider stakeholder support for the truck transition. HGV-dedicated public charging infrastructure is fundamental, as is a grant system that is fit for purpose, with a need for the level of incentive to be on par with other major European markets.

The bus, coach and minibus sector, meanwhile, is setting the standard for decarbonisation, with the UK currently having the largest zero emission bus market in Europe – growth that continued in quarter one as new zero emission registrations rose by more than a fifth. It comes as the market is normalising after sharp fall in ridership levels during the pandemic. In other segments, new minibus demand more than doubled but converting that recovery into zero emission uptake is now essential. A sensible derogation, due in 2025, will allow standard driving licence holders to drive a minibus weighing over 4.25 tonnes, enabling more drivers to operate these new zero emission but heavier vehicles. Until then, many zero emission minibus models are out of reach for operators. Moving the date forward to 2024 would help ensure the journey to net zero includes everyone.

The heaviest vehicles have a crucial role to play in a globally competitive, decarbonised UK automotive sector, and that’s why SMMT is pleased to announce Anna Westerberg, President of Volvo Buses, as the latest keynote speaker for June’s International Automotive Summit. A broad view of how Britain can meet the needs of all road users is essential, guaranteeing automotive growth delivers for both society and the economy. The full event line-up and all tickets can be found here.

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