Britain’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) is urging the UK government to be realistic as it looks to bring forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2035.

“Of course we all want to tackle climate change, but it has to be done in a realistic and manageable way,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett.

“Changing the UK’s car fleet to electric is one thing. They are increasingly available, with improving range and infrastructure that will work for users. For vans this is less clear cut because payloads and duty cycles are much more demanding. 

“The changeover process for heavy goods vehicles is different again. Research into alternative fuels is already widespread. However, because of the nature of the road freight industry and the distances covered, there is still a very long way to go before an efficient, cost-effective alternative to diesel-powered trucks can be found.

“The average price of a truck is approximately GBP85,000 (US$111,000). It will be many years before the industry develops an alternative-fuelled truck that ticks haulier’s boxes but we, as the representative body for the sector are keen to work with the truck manufacturer’s development teams to ensure a smooth and cost-effective transition to alternative fuels.

“Vehicles are an expensive investment. If companies are to invest in cleaner vehicles the government also needs to reassure buyers they will be able to use them for a reasonable lifespan – at least 12 years for lorries.”