Just like many other countries, the UK government has now timed the end of internal combustion vehicles. While the phase-out date for passenger cars was already fixed at 2030, a date has now also been set for medium and heavy-duty trucks. The industry is worried.
From 2035 onwards, there will be no more sales of new trucks weighing between 3.5t and 26t in the UK. In 2040, the last heavy trucks over 26t are to roll off the assembly line. After that, only vehicles with alternative drive systems, such as batteries and hydrogen, may be sold. Previously, an end to combustion engine cars had already been set for 2030. As in other countries, the government has decided this in order to significantly reduce emissions in the transport sector, also with regard to the climate goal of being climate neutral by 2050.
The transport association Logistics UK praised the setting of this date, as facts have now been created with which the industry can plan and play its part in climate protection. The Road Haulage Association, on the other hand, sees the target as unrealistic. In general, it is of course right to switch to cleaner trucks, but since the technology for heavy vehicles is still lacking, the industry cannot even prepare itself yet. It would then be necessary to invest quickly in many new trucks later, while the old ones would be worth little, so the association goes.
In fact, research is being done on battery and hydrogen technology for the heavyweights, but the technology is not yet fully developed. Moreover, there is neither a complete charging structure for battery-powered trucks in Europe nor enough hydrogen filling stations to use the technologies in real-world operations.
Nevertheless, many countries are putting an end to combustion engine trucks in the near future. In the environmental zones of France and the Netherlands, diesel vehicles will no longer be allowed to enter in less than 3 and 4 years respectively. The technology will have to be available by then. Otherwise, it will be difficult to transport goods into the cities.
The UK's announcement also comes in line with other countries in Europe. Denmark actually wants to get away from new combustion cars as early as 2030. Norway even earlier. Other EU countries had joined forces in a non-paper calling on the EU Commission to set a date around 2035. France wants to let the last new combustion cars on the roads in 2040. In Germany, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) has named the year 2035, but would like to rely on e-fuels and thus a backdoor for combustion engines.
The end of the combustion engine is worrying the truck industry. But the environmental zones and their strict rules are likely to be even more dramatic for them. Long before the last diesel truck rolls off the assembly line, it will no longer be allowed to enter many of Europe's environmental zones.