The government intends to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, with new cars and vans already set to be zero emissions (at point of use) by 2035.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is also seeking views on whether to increase the maximum permissible weights for zero emission and alternatively fuelled HGVs completing domestic journeys
Transport is the largest contributor to domestic UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 27% of emissions in 2019, according to the DfT. In November 2020 the government announced that it would end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, with all new cars and vans being zero emission at the tailpipe from 2035, and launch a consultation on a date for phasing out the sale of new diesel HGVs.
The DfT’s decarbonisation plans come in the form of two separate documents:
- Consultation on when to phase out the sale of new, non-zero emission heavy good vehicles
- Green paper on a new road vehicle CO2 emissions regulatory framework for the United Kingdom
The proposal is for a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5 tonnes up to and including 26 tonnes, and 2040 for vehicles greater than 26 tonnes.
Also included in the consultation are questions on whether to extend these phase out dates to HGVs using low carbon fuels, and whether the maximum permissible weights of zero emission or alternatively fuelled HGVs should increase to allow for their generally heavier powertrains.
The consultation documents says: “It is more challenging to apply zero emission technology to heavier HGVs. At their current stage of technological development, batteries take up considerably more of the vehicle’s size and weight allowances than an equivalent diesel powertrain. This is particularly challenging for articulated HGVs where available space is limited. Presently battery powered vehicles are unable to carry the heaviest loads over longer distances, as the extra weight from batteries reduces the space and weight available for the payload.
“With current technologies, compressed hydrogen is more energy dense than batteries, so fewer improvements are required to achieve the acceptable range and refuelling times for HGVs. However, hydrogen features similar limitations to batteries because hydrogen tanks are larger than diesel fuel tanks and therefore compromise available payload space.
“The increased weight of zero emission technologies and the resulting impact on payload could diminish the business case for adopting zero emission HGVs. Increasing the maximum permissible weights for zero emission HGVs would alleviate this issue and increase their uptake. Similarly, alternatively fuelled but not zero emission HGVs, such as those powered by natural gas, LCFs, liquified petroleum gas or hydrogen combustion could have similar challenges with heavier powertrains. Therefore, increased vehicle weight limits can encourage the uptake of alternatively fuelled HGVs in the short to medium term, before zero emission alternatives are available.”
The green paper on the regulatory framework addresses the complexities of measuring emissions and eligibility.
It says: “The currently accepted, validated, and legislated for method of calculating GHG emissions from vehicles in the UK is gCO2/km based on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP)vi. Therefore, we intend to use this as the main basis to define eligibility from 2030 to 2035.
“However, we recognise a gCO2/km metric does not directly demonstrate the zero emission capability of vehicles. Full hybrids can accommodate substantial driving time and even mileage in zero emissions mode. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrids can drive significant number of miles propelled solely by battery power when they have been charged, but their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions can be much higher than type-approval values if they are not regularly charged.
“Therefore, we are interested in gathering evidence on alternative metrics, in addition to gCO2/km, in order to capture the zero emission capability of these vehicles. This could include whether a combination of metrics may be needed, or whether metrics should differ for different types of technology.”
The consultation on ending the sale of new non-zero emission HGVs runs until 3rd September 2021.
The consultation on options for a CO2 regulatory framework for all new road vehicles in the UK closes on 22nd September 2021.