3 minute read - 24th March 2023
Opinion: More UK government support needed to accelerate electric truck adoption
Talk of growth in electric vehicles continues with recent SMMT figures showing a sharp rise in electric car production. For commercial vehicles, it’s a slightly different story with UK truck manufacturers and operators not having the same incentives as those available in mainland Europe. Asher Bennett, CEO and founder of British electric truck manufacturer Tevva, shares his thoughts on why the government should provide more support, in line with those in Europe, for electric truck adoption.
The IPCC just this week said that the world can still avoid the worst of climate collapse with genuine change, but that if we keep emitting at the current rate, the carbon budget for 1.5C will be exhausted by 2030. That juxtaposition of hope and grim reality should be enough to focus everyone’s minds on the opportunities and threats that lie ahead.
At Tevva, we believe that further government action is required to ensure that the UK achieves its net zero goals in the best and fastest possible way for the good of the environment, economy and British people. The recent Net Zero Review set out the ‘historic opportunity’ offered by net zero in the UK, by creating a new era of change and opportunity. Yet the report also made clear that more should be done to ‘back business’ and reap the economic benefits.
Our expertise lies in electric vehicles and specifically the electrification of trucks. Despite accounting for just two per cent of vehicles on our roads, heavy-duty trucks (HDVs) are responsible for over a quarter of road transport emissions. Road transport and HDVs are also one of the largest sources of air pollution which causes 350,000 premature deaths per year in Europe.
Clearly more must be done to accelerate the decarbonisation of commercial vehicles, and we’re asking the UK government to bring truck incentives in-line with those found in Europe. Brexit put us in a position where as a nation we were free from EU state aid rules which limited the amount of support governments could give to certain industries. Yet, the UK is lagging behind its European neighbours when it comes to incentives for electric truck adoption.
As a vehicle manufacturer, Tevva can offer its customers discounts at point of sale thanks to government incentives, with a maximum of £16,000 for small trucks and £25,000 for large ones. Yet, if you compare this support to what’s on offer in other European countries, you’re left with a feeling that more could be done. In Germany, for example, the government provides 80% of the price differential between diesel and battery-electric trucks, in the Netherlands it’s 45%. That’s potentially between £50-90,000 per truck more than what’s on offer in the UK.
We appreciate the British government’s support which enables us to make our 7.5t battery-electric truck even more appealing to fleets. But for this country to meet its net zero goals, more action is needed to stimulate electric vehicle manufacturing in the UK, which is really the only bright spot in an industry that has reached its lowest ebb for over 60 years.
The electrification of trucks is inevitable, and the technology has developed to a point where an electric truck is a viable proposition for many operators. There’s a huge appetite among fleets for electric trucks, as the opportunity to reduce emissions makes good business sense. Obviously, there needs to be trust in the technology and clarity on total cost of ownership (TCO). Tevva is working with its customers to address both of these points and we’re confident that our electric trucks will save them money over the lifetime of the vehicle and improve their fleet and driver performance.
By developing a range of battery-electric and hydrogen-electric medium- to heavy-duty trucks that can improve air quality, vehicle safety, and lower total cost of ownership, Tevva is leading commercial vehicle decarbonisation in the UK. Yet the market isn’t ready to adopt on scale without further incentivisation, at least not with the required urgency.