Electrify key highways to accelerate shift to battery-powered trucks: report

The green NGO T&E are calling on the EU to invest €190 million to deliver charging points along Europe's largest highway corridors. [Erich Westendarp / Pixabay]

Modest investment in charging infrastructure along major European motorways could herald a shift to long-haul electric road freight, according to a new report by the green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).

T&E are calling on the EU to invest €190 million to deliver charging points along Europe’s largest highway corridors. The figure represents 0.2% of the EU’s €100 billion annual spend on transport infrastructure.

The report, released Thursday (22 April), suggests that fears over the lack of charging infrastructure are holding back the rollout of e-trucks.

Electric vehicles are currently used to make deliveries over short distances, such as distributing parcels in cities, but long-haul road shipping remains the preserve of petrol and diesel trucks.

Trips over 400km make up around 5% of journeys in Europe, but account for around 20% of truck emissions.

However, experts say that improvements in battery technology means electric trucks capable of competing with long-haul fossil fuel vehicles will appear on the market within the next three years.

Electric truck technology close to challenging diesel: study

Electric freight trucks will soon be technologically ready to replace fossil-fuel powered trucks, but the lack of fast-charging infrastructure will hamper uptake, a new study has found.

“Electrifying long-haul trucking is no longer a pipe dream. The technology is there and it won’t be long before it is not just cleaner than diesel, but also more cost-effective,” said Simon Suzan, freight data analyst at T&E.

“But for it to take off, Europe needs to invest in charging infrastructure both on major highways and transport hubs. This would cost just a fraction of the EU’s transport expenditure.”

The report states that around 11,000 high-power chargers will be needed by 2030 to facilitate long-haul electric trucking, split between public charging points and chargers at distribution centres and depots. This should be in addition to the roughly 38,000 chargers required for urban and regional deliveries, according to T&E.

Many of T&E’s concerns were contained in a joint letter, written with the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), sent to the European Commission on 13 April. The letter calls for an increase in the number of charging points for heavy-duty vehicles.

In January, ACEA warned that an almost 100-fold increase in the number of zero-emission trucks will be needed to meet the EU’s 2030 climate targets, calling the European Commission’s goal of having 80,000 clean trucks on the road insufficient.

The car and truck lobby group argued that 200,000 trucks will be required to achieve the 30% drop in emissions set under EU rules on heavy-duty vehicles. T&E also criticised the target of 80,000 zero-emission trucks, saying it is “not in line with the objective of climate neutrality by 2050”.

A recent report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found the deployment of charging infrastructure is not moving quick enough to meet the EU’s targets. The EU aims to have 1 million electric charging points installed across the bloc by 2025, expanding to 3 million by 2030.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

Subscribe to our newsletters