BETT: Battery Electric Truck Trial

The Challenge

In 2021, Innovate UK allocated funding to showcase the potential of battery electric trucks in real-world scenarios. DAF, a distinguished truck manufacturer, spearheaded a project to deploy a fleet of twenty 19-tonne rigid electric trucks across nine public sector fleets spanning various regions of England. The primary aim was to conduct an impartial evaluation of these vehicles’ performance, generating unbiased data to enlighten the industry about the advantages and limitations of integrating electric heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

This endeavour represents a notable advancement in the transport sector, signalling a shift toward a more sustainable trajectory. With this evidence base, the industry can make informed decisions and progress toward more environmentally friendly practices. It signifies a modest stride toward a more promising and sustainable future for forthcoming generations.

The Development

Cenex stepped up to this challenge when they were appointed by DAF as the independent trial monitoring and study partner. A project website was set up to disseminate live data and findings from the trial, as well as to showcase a fleet planning tool for stakeholders thinking of transitioning their HGV fleet to electric.

Cenex NL supported our colleagues at Cenex with the life cycle assessment of the Battery Electric Truck Trial to understand the environmental impact over the entire life of a truck from production of raw materials through to construction, regular use and end-of-life. The assessment covered both an electric truck and its diesel equivalent to enable comparison of the difference.

The Result

The results offer crucial insights into the environmental impact of transitioning to electric heavy goods vehicles, focusing on emissions during production, different usage scenarios, and end-of-life scenarios.

  • During the production phase, the electric variant emits 1.6 times more emissions compared to the diesel truck, primarily attributed to the battery manufacturing process.
  • Emissions during the usage phase vary significantly depending on the electricity source. The standard UK grid mix results in less than half the emissions of a diesel truck, while Danish electricity can achieve nearly an 90% reduction. Conversely, a grid reliant on coal may experience a 13% increase in emissions compared to diesel.
  • Despite the higher production emissions, the extensive distances typically covered by HGVs result in significant savings during the usage phase. With the standard UK grid mix, environmental payback can be achieved in just over a year.

In summary, the analysis of emissions from electric HGVs underscores the complexities and opportunities in transitioning to sustainable transportation solutions. Despite challenges in production emissions and variability in usage emissions, the study reveals a pathway towards environmental payback. These insights inform strategic decisions aimed at fostering a greener future in the heavy transportation sector.