On the Diesel HGV Ban

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All new HGVs will be zero emission by 2040, unless they catch fire, the government announced back in November 2021.

If this sounds stupid, it ain’t. Stupid people were phased out under the Blair government.

All new heavy goods vehicles in the UK will be zero-emission by 2040, the UK government has confirmed today (10 November 2021). This, combined with the UK’s 2030 phase out for petrol and diesel cars and vans, represents a world-leading pledge to end the sale of all polluting road vehicles within the next 2 decades.GOV.UK

By world-leading pledge, they seem to mean world-leading plunge off the edge: “We are the first among many lemmings, and after we have leapt off the cliff, others will follow.” And “to end the sale of all polluting road vehicles” means an end to the sale of all road vehicles, not just the ones that emit CO2, which under any rational definition is not a pollutant. (See also No Smoke Without Tyres.)

Never mind that there are hardly any EHGVs (I may have just invented that acronym, I dunno). Never mind whether this ban is actually a practical proposition. We just utter the magic words, and some minion makes it happen.

The UK will become the first country in the world to commit to phasing out new, non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles weighing 26 tonnes and under by 2035, with all new HGVs sold in the UK to be zero emission by 2040.GOV.UK, op. cit.

26 tonnes is not the mass of the vehicle. It’s the vehicle plus the maximum load. That would make the HGV itself about 8 tonnes and the load 18. However, the definition of HGV begins at a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes:

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)Vehicles constructed for transporting goods and must have a gross weight over 3.5 tonnes. This includes vehicles that are not used for freight.

Well, how are things going so far? The vast majority of new HGVs are going to be battery-powered in 13 years. How many battery-powered HGVs were registered last year? (This and the following registration data comes from table df_VEH0270 on this page.)


HGVs registered in the UK in 2021

About a third of a percent. But the low levels of registrations should not be taken as proof that 100% battery power is not possible by 2035. Large numbers of electric cars have been registered lately. (Is it just me, or do electric car drivers seem to fit a particular archetype? 50+ white males are the usual drivers. It makes me suspicious that the EV is a second, or possibly third car.)

I wanted to make a price comparison between electric HGVs and diesel HGVs, because I thought that the electric ones would be a good deal more expensive. Naturally such things are hard to pin down on the internet, unlike for cars.

Here are all the battery HGVs registered last year:

The largest contributor, with 32 registrations, was “DENNIS Model Missing”. This is probably composed of RCVs (Refuse Collection Vehicles). Who would buy an electric RCV, when there is a perfectly good diesel version that is probably cheaper? Glad you asked.

Cambridge councils roll out electric RCV

The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service – a partnership between South Cambridgeshire district and Cambridge city councils – has rolled out its first electric refuse collection vehicle (RCV).

The fully electric Dennis Eagle ‘eCollect’ costs around £400,000, which the partnership says is more than the approximate £185,000 cost of a diesel bin lorry.

However the partnership said this highlights its  the two council’s [sic] commitment to the “growing climate emergency”, and the Shared Waste Service says it will eventually replace all current 55 diesel vehicles across its fleet with electric or hydrogen lorries.

Such knowledge – that £400,000 is more than £185,000 – explains why we are just table-chewing oafs, and these guys control the big bucks. “The growing climate emergency”? I hope they asked their residents if they wanted one new leccy RCV instead of two new diesel ones. And when all 55 vehicles have been replaced, it will have cost Greater Cambridge £22,000,000.


(Multiplying two numbers together is something that GCSWS is just getting to grips with.)

But they spend a thou a month on diesel for each of the existing vehicles. Great. So even if the leccy to charge up the “substantially quieter” battery version WAS ENTIRELY FREE, it would take 18 years to earn back the difference in cost. And of course the RCV won’t last that long. (Caveat: this article is two years old. Therefore, diesel will be more expensive now. But the leccy won’t be free, will it?)

So, the battery version is “substantially quieter.” (Probably true. The diesel version revs up when the compactor is in use.) Are there any other advantages of battery over diesel? Well, you’ve got increased resilience, in that in the event of an extended power cut, waste will still be… oh, hang on.

Solar panels installed at the Waste Service’s Depot at Waterbeach may be used to charge the electric recycling lorry.

You see? They think of everything. Except their bosses, the taxpayers. And how practical the new RCV is. Cambridge was followed by Islington and Nottingham, or, according to Transport Engineer, Nottingham came first. A quick Google search shows that Blaby and Powys have trialled one.

One was trialled in Oxford in July 2020. The linked article makes a series of interesting claims in a bullet list:


Carbon dioxide and cost calculations

  • One Euro 6 diesel engine refuse collection vehicle (RCV) generates 27 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
  • It has an expected life of 10 years, meaning each diesel vehicle will be producing 270 tonnes of C02 over its lifetime.
  • Replacing two RCVs for electric ones on this basis is the equivalent to planting 2000 trees.
  • One electric RCV will save approximately £10,000 per annum in fuel and £6,000 per annum in maintenance costs compared to a diesel RCV because it has far fewer parts to maintain.
  • Each electric RCV will, therefore, provide £300,000 savings compared to diesel in its lifetime.

It’s interesting and confusing in equal measure. If you are saving £16,000 a year on fuel and maintenance… after ten years you’ve saved £160,000, not £300,000 as advertised. However, we’ve already heard that the price differential is >£200,000. So you’ve still made a loss. But there is no mention of the purchase price here. Saving CO2 is not the equivalent of planting any number of trees. Planting trees is planting trees. In any case we’ve already heard from Volvo that battery-equivalent vehicles might be more CO2-intensive to manufacture. No mention of that is made.

What else would make a good fit for a vehicle powered by a giant battery instead of a snorting diesel? How about a snowplough/gritter? [My bolding.]

One of the first vehicles to enter operation following the [IVECO-Electra] collaboration is an Electra SEIV 19-350, built on a 4×2 rigid Eurocargo chassis plated at 19-tonnes and with a Paneltex temperature controlled box body. This demonstrator, developed with IVECO-dealer Guest Truck & Van, has been followed by a second Electra SEIV 19-350 equipped with a Bucher Municipal Phoenix salt spreader body and Bucher Municipal snowplough with electro-hydraulic control pack – built on a 3,890mm wheelbase with a 205kWh battery pack and dual 22kW onboard chargers.

Electra’s engineers have developed the gritter with a total unladen weight of just 10,300kg, including the chassis, batteries, electric traction motor and all ancillary equipment. With derogation allowing for up to a tonne of extra weight for the alternative fuel driveline, this means a 19-tonne model has only a 360kg loss of payload compared to a standard 18-tonne diesel-powered equivalent.IVECO

I like the sound of that, don’t you? A derogation for the alternative driveline adding a tonne of weight? And again it’s perfectly obvious that a country relying on such vehicles to clear snowy roads would, er, have to hope that there are never extended power cuts (although of course generators are available). Will it get tired pushing snow out of the way? There is also a serious point: both bin lorries and snowploughs are heavy-duty vehicles. They probably get bashed about quite a bit. Is there potential danger of penetration of the battery pack? At all? Has anyone thought about this?

Let me just segue back to the breathless announcement of the HGV virtue signal itself.

This comes as new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commissioned by the UK COP Presidency and published today, shows the progress made in the passenger vehicle marketGOV.UK, op. cit.

I know I would go straight to Bloomberg NEF if I wanted dispassionate advice about the battery EV market: wouldn’t you? After all, they always play with a straight bat. Never, ever spin. Take my post “The UK’s Obscene Fossil Fuel Subsidies.”

According to BNEF,

ZEVs are forecast to be 70% of all new car sales in 2040, with this projection having doubled in the last 5 yearsGOV.UK, op. cit.

According to Statista, 66.7 million cars were sold last year. 70% of that is 46.7 million. 46.7 million leccy cars! How much Li is that, Kevin?

Um, well let’s say 10-15 kg per car, let’s say 10, because multiplying is hard, which is – don’t tell me, I know this one – divide by a thousand to convert into kg and multiply by 10 – gives you 467,000 tonnes.

How much was mined last year? According to Statista, 100,000 tonnes was mined in 2021.

OK, so it’s nearly 5 times as much as current world production, but it’s doable. It’s not crazyland. What about the reserves? Well, depends who you ask, but there’s probably plenty. But it means we have 18 years to nearly quintuple the mining, leaving not much aside for all those grid-saving battery banks and home batteries (or are they going to be EV cast-offs?). Oh, and, er, all them thar battery powered HGVs.

Of course, the number of cars sold might decline. Well, they want us to be poorer after all (i.e., to use less energy). In any case it’s an easy bet to take now, especially in places like Europe where countries are banning the alternative. And even if the ban was rescinded, nobody would go back to building ICE cars. Manufacturers would assume that the rescinded ban would sooner or later be reinstated. Pity they didn’t push back against the ban when it was first announced. But history records that they were fully signed up. What they should have said is, “OK, you can ban ICE cars. We’ll just close our factory and go and make them somewhere else.”

A group of ministers and industry leaders committed to working towards 100% zero emission new car and van sales by 2040 or earlier met at Transport Day at COP26. Thirty-four countries, 6 major vehicle manufacturers (GM, Ford, Mercedes, BYD, Volvo, JLR), 41 cities, states and regions, 28 fleets and 13 investors all jointly set out their determination for all new car and van sales to be zero emission by 2040 globally and 2035 in leading markets.GOV.UK, op. cit.


In this group, companies like Sainsbury’s and countries including El Salvador and New Zealand are today making new commitments to 100% zero emission vehicles. They follow proposals made by the EU, Chile, Canada and a number of US states this year to ensure all new cars are zero emission by 2035.GOV.UK, op. cit.

I know wherever El Salvador leads, I certainly like to follow. Don’t you? And I’m not even going to look up which US states are referred to.

The UK government is also unveiling a new design for electric vehicle chargepoints, which could become as iconic as the Great British post box, London bus or black cab. Showcased in the UK Pavilion at COP26 and designed together with the Royal College of Art and PA Consulting, the concept prioritises inclusivity and ease of use, designed with consumers, local government, accessibility groups and industry.GOV.UK, op. cit.

“The concept prioritises inclusivity.” Dude, it’s a handle.

The new inclusive handle

The design concept will provide greater choice to industry and local government, as well as raise awareness and generate excitement around electric vehicles, as we build one of the most convenient, affordable and reliable charging networks in the world. This builds on our goal to make sure everyone benefits from the transition to zero emission transport. ZEVs are already cheaper to run in the UK than petrol or diesel cars and are expected to become cheaper to buy in the coming years.GOV.UK, op. cit.

Generate excitement? Did you really just say that? And you definitely said that ZEVs are already cheaper to run. Yeah, thanks. You dogs tax the other kind of car into the ground and then bark about how the alternative, the one you are subsidising, turns out to be cheaper? Who knew? This is some sort of revolution in logic as well as a miracle in automotion.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

From our roads to the skies, the transition to zero emission transport has reached a tipping point. We know that transport plays a key role saving the planet from warming above 1.5°C, which is why this is the COP that will kick start our ambition for zero emission aviation and why I’m proud to be uniting world leaders to tackle climate change – creating new opportunities for clean growth, green jobs and improved air quality right across the globe.GOV.UK, op. cit.

Well, we expect gobbledigook vol-au-vents from the Transport Secretary, with a little nonsense garnish on top: transport playing a key role saving the planet? We might say instead that the transition to zero transport has reached a tipping point. Let’s hope not, eh? Who else do they wheel out to say something to cut’n’paste?

British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) Chief Executive, Gerry Keaney, said:

Today’s announcement is a welcome update and will support the industry in its drive towards decarbonisation. BVRLA members are already leading the way in making positive changes and it’s vital that regulations acknowledge the different challenges experienced from one vehicle type to another.

Use cases of HGVs vary significantly, so we welcome the government’s intention to consult on derogations that will enable a fair and achievable transition. The BVRLA looks forward to working with the government on the delivery plan that will be essential in ensuring the UK road transport network can be decarbonised successfully.

The approach must be comprehensive, particularly around HGVs where the barriers remain huge. The recent funding that was announced to support trials of zero emission technology for the sector is a very positive step, and we eagerly await the clarity this will bring to help meet the phase-out dates.GOV.UK, op. cit.

Derogations? What might they be? It won’t last, whatever it is. Huge barriers around HGVs? Nope, it’s easy. Someone just says it’s gonna happen, and it happens.

Olly Craughan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at DPDgroup UK Ltd said:

We totally support the withdrawal of the selling of new, non-zero emission HGVs in the UK by 2035, as we do the sale of new diesel/petrol final mile fleet vehicles by 2030. We would urge all parties involved in the supply of alternative green HGVs to press the fast forward button on their development plans so businesses like ourselves can make the transition as soon as possible.GOV.UK, op. cit.

Leaving aside the question as to why a corporation should have a Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, regarding “We totally support the withdrawal of the selling of new, non-zero emission HGVs in the UK by 2035, as we do the sale of new diesel/petrol final mile fleet vehicles by 2030”: Dude, just get on with delivering the parcels, yeah?

Finally, I want to comment on this little Ministerial soundbite from that notable tap-dancing double act Shapps and Kwarteng, which came in the response to the consultation on banning cars with engines:

In 2019, the UK made history by becoming the first major global economy to pass legislation to end our contribution to climate change. Delivering ‘net zero’ emissions will require drastic action across all sectors of the economy.

Let me just explain something to the good ministers. You don’t make history by making an announcement or passing a law. The moment of history is when the goal is achieved, not when it is announced. History was not made when JFK announced the goal of landing a man on the moon in 1961; history was made in 1969 when the goal was achieved.


Electric vans might do a good job of city deliveries. If you were a delivery company and wanted to try them out, great. Amazon use them around these parts. This would of course be a commercial decision; even if the sums didn’t add up, there is also the PR cred to consider – it might still be worth it.

Local authorities, on the other hand, have a duty to their bosses, the people of that county or city, to base their decisions not on green PR but on cost-effectiveness. The evidence here is that they are squandering taxpayers’ cash on vehicles that might be as effective as diesels, but which cost significantly more. (A final caveat: these vehicles might have been purchased under government grants that were tied to certain things such as ZEVs. If so, the money is being wasted higher up.)

via Climate Scepticism

August 21, 2022

On the Diesel HGV Ban – Climate Scepticism (cliscep.com)