UK Government pledges £200m to decarbonise freight industry
The UK Government has allocated an investment of £200m to bolster innovation and promote the adoption of zero-emission trucks, in a bid to facilitate the decarbonisation of freight vehicles and generate employment opportunities.
This investment will be distributed among four projects designed to collectively introduce up to 370 zero-emission HGVs into the transportation network and develop around 57 refuelling and electric charging sites.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Freight and logistics are the beating heart of our economy and it is only right that we celebrate the sector so that it gets the recognition and support it deserves.
“From boosting zero-emission tech across freight to attracting the future generation of talent to the industry, we are working hard to drive innovation, create jobs and grow the economy by building a brighter, more innovative future for one of our most crucial industries.”
The Government is working in partnership with Innovate UK to implement these initiatives.
One of the projects, eFREIGHT 2030 by Voltempo in Birmingham, is set to create up to 200 new jobs by 2030 and provide Birmingham with one of the UK’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs dedicated to HGVs.
Other beneficiaries include major grocery companies including Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer. The funding will help them to reduce transport emissions and mitigate the costs associated with fluctuating fuel prices.
By mitigating these costs, the Government anticipates that the initiative will translate into cost savings for consumers and alleviate some of the financial pressures associated with the cost of living crisis.
Additional freight innovation fund
Additionally, the Government has allocated £2.4m through the second phase of the Freight Innovation Fund (FIF) to encourage innovation in the freight and logistics industry.
The Freight Innovation Fund, part of the Future of Freight Plan, aims to foster innovative technology to reduce emissions in the freight industry. Its previous projects include the use of drones for deliveries, AI and data solutions for cost reduction, and zero-emission technologies in London.
The FIF Accelerator will support up to 10 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing sustainable and efficient freight solutions.
Exploring solutions to decarbonise the freight industry
Moreover, two Calls for Evidence have been initiated to explore new ways to make the freight industry more sustainable and efficient.
The first call will help formulate a zero emission HGV and coach infrastructure strategy for 2024. The second focuses on volumetric concrete mixers (VCMs) and their temporary weight allowance beyond 2028.
The Government will also assess how to promote freight transportation via alternative modes, such as rail and water, by reviewing the Mode Shift Revenue Support and Waterborne Freight Grant schemes.
These initiatives are part of Freight Week, which follows a series of actions to support the haulage sector. The Government has extended the fuel duty cut to March 2024 and introduced 33 measures to enhance roadside facilities for lorry drivers, increase capacity for HGV driver tests, and offer skill boot camps.
Volta Trucks declares bankruptcy
In related news, Volta Trucks has announced its decision to initiate bankruptcy proceedings due to the financial struggles of its battery supplier, Proterra.
The company had made considerable strides in creating sustainable solutions for commercial vehicles but has been impacted by Proterra’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
The bankruptcy has severely impacted Volta Trucks’ manufacturing plans, leading to a reduced vehicle production forecast. The company claims that the uncertainty in the battery supply chain has also impacted its ability to secure the necessary capital.
The company’s main trading entity, Volta Trucks Limited, will file for administration in England, with Alvarez & Marsal overseeing the process. The administration process is already underway in Sweden.
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