The DfT sees electric and hydrogen vehicles as the fuels of the future for the freight, and wants to work with industry to get it to “get this sector moving up to speed”.
Vicky Edmonds, deputy director for environmental strategy at DfT, said the department wasn’t clear on how it will make freight a zero emission industry, and asked whether more could be done in the short-term while it looks for the answers.
She asked: “Are we really at the limit of what we think industry can do when it comes to emissions behaviours and technologies, and how can we in government support that?”
“Long-term we think the future is a mixture of electric batteries – battery technology is improving quite fast and we hope we could see 44-tonne trucks running on batteries. And hydrogen fuel cells, there’s a problem with supply but how can we handle that?”
She added that government wants to think more on dynamic charging on motorways.
“We’ve not really done much with it in the UK and I think we need to start thinking about our role in that.
“Are we going to have tram lines running along sections of motorways and city centres? Or are we going to have inductive loops under the road? Does industry think it’s a good idea or a bad idea?
“These are the conversations we’d really like to start having with you, about how we get this sector moving up to speed.”
One of the big obstacles to getting electric trucks on the road is the size of batteries vs the height and weight restrictions HGVs have to meet in the UK.
Edmonds told Freight in the City the DfT won’t change these to encourage electric vehicle design.
She said: “At the moment the discussions are the batteries would be enormous, and the idea is that technology and the development of batteries is going to improve so much that you won’t necessarily have that problem.
“So I think it’s about what the future looks like for the industry and how we get there, not to tackle an immediate hurdle.”