Government continues to consult on an appropriate date to end the sale of new non-zero emission buses and on the appropriate supporting policy and regulatory framework required. In this context, the UK bus sector is a global leader and technological centre of excellence, operating Europe’s largest EV bus fleet. The UK market’s structure and outlook has encouraged the industry to make significant investments in innovative, efficient lightweight platforms and pioneering
ultra low and zero emission technologies.
Manufacturers are developing zero emission technology for the heavy-duty sector. However, advancements in suitable technology are still in their infancy. The key challenges to operators are practicality and affordability, with the main issues being cost, range and weight-payload trade-off. HGVs carry out essential services for business and society. Operators cannot easily switch to alternative modes or powertrains as the technology is not yet available to achieve a like-for-like efficient operation that is both affordable and maintains existing payloads. These vehicles are business tools and are not chosen or renewed in the same way as a
passenger car. The approach to decarbonisation of HGVs must be considered differently to that of other vehicles, particular given their vital importance to society as a whole.
Electric vehicle infrastructure
Government policy to bring forward the end of sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and vans to 2030 requires a comprehensive infrastructure delivery plan
to ensure there is adequate charging infrastructure for consumers by 2030. It is of paramount importance that the accelerated transition timeframe for zero emission vehicles is matched by an equally accelerated programme that expedites infrastructure rollout, regulates the standard of consumer experience and safeguards social equity.
In June 2020, SMMT joined the Hydrogen Strategy Now cross-industry campaign, calling on government to develop and adopt a hydrogen strategy for the UK. Such a strategy is essential to ensuring every relevant sector can access the clean hydrogen it needs to offer a viable option to decarbonisation. While there will be differences in the need for dispensing hydrogen, there needs to be a holistic UK wide plan covering its production, transmission, and storage.
With more hydrogen products coming to market across different segments of the automotive industry, alongside developments in other sectors, the publication of a
government Hydrogen Strategy is crucial. The strategy will need to design in clean hydrogen from the beginning to avoid locking industries into fossil fuel derived hydrogen. For transport, hydrogen could offer a viable alternative to battery electric for HGVs and buses.