Gridserve HGV

Gridserve has welcomed its truck manufacturer consortium members to its Braintree Electric Forecourt to begin the eHGV charging infrastructure design phase of its Electric Freightway programme – an industry-leading project funded by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK.

The timing of the meeting was spot on as the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) has said truck operators need “cast-iron confidence” to make the switch to electric and need proof that today’s electric trucks have sufficient range and carrying capacities, and that the EV charging infrastructure is available and powerful enough for them,

Gridserve said the meeting is the first time DAF Trucks (the UK’s best-selling truck manufacturer), Volvo Trucks (the UK and Europe’s market leader in electric HGVs) and Renault Trucks have collaborated to support the advancement of eHGV charging infrastructure, with all manufacturers testing the charge power levels of its models and reviewing both the layout and form factors of existing EV charging bays.

Although the Braintree Electric Forecourt wasn’t intended for trucks, it does benefit from one 360kW-capable High Power charger in a layby which can accommodate a full articulated tractor and trailer combination. The eHGV tractors and trailers can also fit beneath the EV charging station’s solar canopy.

This field research is in preparation for the design of both public and depot-based EV charging infrastructure that Gridserve will install during the first two years of the Electric Freightway’s seven-year project lifespan. This includes more than 200 High Power 350kW-capable chargers across key motorway service areas, more than 10 commercial depots and at least two x one megawatt (MW) capacity chargers.

John Whybrow, eHGV programme director for Gridserve, said: “We want to understand how best to support the 140 electric trucks that will be involved in the project, and how to provide these myriad use cases with the appropriate infrastructure that will make them work seamlessly for their operators. This is the benefit of having such breadth and depth in our consortium.”

Ron Smith, driver trainer at DAF Trucks, added: “Braintree is a great facility for electric cars, but now we need the same sort of focus on trucks if we want to move forwards. We already have a lot of eHGV customers, but we see the current focus around shorter, depot-to-depot deliveries. We could unlock so many new areas with dedicated nationwide infrastructure. We need to see chargepoints installed along critical routes so it is possible to drive from the south of England to the north of Scotland in an electric truck.”

Martin Kearns, head of electric sales development at Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland, said: “The needs of truck drivers are very different to car drivers. These are operational vehicles with payloads and commercials that sit behind them, so charging has to be reliable, consistent and a reservation booking system is going to be critical.”

Simon Calado, energy transition manager for Renault Trucks UK, added: “As a brand, we probably have the broadest portfolio of EVs on offer, ranging from light commercials all the way up to 44 tonnes. You can easily cover 300km with battery electric trucks on sale today, but operators need proof that those ranges are repeatable in the real world. An evidence-based approach from the Electric Freightway project will support the argument for battery electric HGVs.”

Understanding these routes and use cases, and comparing this data with a baseline of diesel-powered fleets will be supported by Gridserve’s principal partner Hitachi ZeroCarbon. This data will allow Gridserve to size its charger and energy offering appropriately for the demand and install infrastructure in the most sought-after locations, helping to bridge the gaps between busy depots and public eHGV charging stations.

The results of these findings are expected to be published in Hitachi ZeroCarbon’s first report on design and feasibility of the Electric Freightway. The report will be released this spring, with Gridserve committing to install its first eHGV chargers in late summer.