Putting the brakes on decarbonising Britain’s lorries?
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One of the hurdles slowing efforts to decarbonise commercial transport vehicles in Britain is the shortcomings in electric trucks and lorries compared to their counterparts operating on petrol.

That is the conclusion in a report by PwC drafted on the basis of a survey conducted among about 40 representatives of British haulage firms.

    The research shows that the transition to electric lorries is hindered by poor quality of haulage   — linked to discrepancies in technical characteristics. A second factor — difficulties involved in using street recharging stations, which are aimed principally at cars.

    A ban on selling new cars with petrol of diesel engines goes into effect in Great Britain in 2030. In the intervening period, PwC forecasts, the number of electric cars on the road will rise to 13 million from 300,000 at the moment.

    The main force behind the decarbonisation campaign was supposed to be haulage and public transport – which accounts for 6.3 million vehicles, including 3.6 million vans.

    But there are limiting factors on the way.

    About 45 % of fleet van drivers will be unable to charge their vehicles at home as they have no access to off-street parking. Another problem is a shortage of semiconductors, which in the longer term could affect the number of available electrical vehicles or prompt a rise in their price. And a narrow range of models makes electric vehicles less attractive. At this time, the British buyer has available only about 20 models of electric vans – compared to more than 90 models of car.

    A further problem is the lack of clarity around decarbonising large-scale lorries used for long-distance haulage.  For the moment, it is unclear what will prove more popular – interim solutions like biomethane and CNG (compressed natural gas) or a transition to fuel cells.

    In solving infrastructure problems, most of those surveyed pointed to the special role played by local authorities, responsible for allocating land between operators of charging stations and, at the same time, moving to convert their service cars to electric vehicles and setting an example for local communities.

    Over the first 11 months of 2021, sales of battery electric vehicles in Britain rose year-on-year by 89 % (to 163,022) and the number of rechargeable cars sold climbed by 83 % (to 106,218), according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

    The combined share of sales of the two types of electric vehicles among all new vehicle sales over that period totalled 17.5 %.

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