SMMT’s Chief Executive has spoken about the challenge of persuading fleet managers to become early adopters of heavy commercial vehicles when there is no charging infrastructure available for them.
Speaking at an industry forum at the CV Show this afternoon, Mike Hawes said: “The ‘first mover’ disadvantage is something that is bedevilling the entire transition to decarbonised transport. Some way of sharing set-up costs are needed, so the first operator in an area doesn’t end up paying 100 percent of the cost to set up”.
“The Government is alert to the issue and we [at SMMT] are working with energy providers and the distribution network through the Automotive Council to try and identify where the barriers are towards the roll out of infrastructure,” added Hawes.
In terms of providing public charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles, the biggest ‘stumbling block’ according to Hawes is ‘sorting out who pays’. “There is certainly money to be made from this, but the return on investment isn’t going to be short term,” he said, adding that it is vital to put this infrastructure in place as without it, fleets have no incentive to switch creating a vicious cycle.
“Rolling out nationwide infrastructure will be a medium to long term investment and it needs government intervention to help de-risk it,” said Hawes, concluding that reaching the dates set by for net zero emissions would be hard without an intervention from policy makers.
“One of the frustrations we feel as an industry is that the dates have been set, but there isn’t a strategy set out to define how we are going to get there”, he concluded.