How Magtec’s Innovations Are Powering UK’s Electric Lorries

Electric fleets are an increasing sight on UK roads, but what does the future hold for electric lorries in the UK? Will the challenges of range, charging infrastructure and cost be overcome to meet the growing demands of sustainability and efficiency in freight transport? 

We spoke with Andrew Sloan, the Engineering Director at Magtec, to understand the current state of the UK’s electric lorry market, the challenges it faces, and the technological advancements Magtec is bringing to the table.

Magtech electric HGV

The Current State of the Electric Lorry Industry in the UK

The current state of the electric lorry industry in the UK is one of rapid growth and transformation. The sector is witnessing significant momentum, driven by governmental policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions, technological advancements, and an increasing awareness of environmental issues among businesses and consumers alike.

The UK government has implemented stringent emission targets and provides incentives for adopting electric vehicles, including lorries. Similar to the upcoming 2035 ban on the sale of petrol cars, the major initiative in the UK electric lorry market is a ban on new diesel and petrol lorries by 2040.

Innovations in battery technology, electric drivetrains, and charging infrastructure are improving the range, efficiency, and viability of electric trucks for commercial use.

Companies like Magtec are at the forefront of these advancements, offering solutions that make electric lorries more appealing for a wide range of uses. Mr Sloan reports that “the industry is growing, as shown by the 16 per cent increase in new registrations for heavy goods vehicles in the last quarter. The market is dominated by European OEMs such as Mercedes-Benz and DAF.”

“Beyond Magtec, there is very little UK-based EV design and manufacturing. But opportunities are growing. For instance, we are supplying drive systems to Europe’s largest manufacturer of electric refuse collection trucks.”

Despite the positive trajectory, the electric truck industry faces challenges such as high upfront costs, limited charging infrastructure and concerns about range.

Magtec’s Position in the UK Market

Magtec creates the critical components that power electric vehicles and develops the sophisticated software necessary to integrate these systems into a variety of vehicles. This end-to-end capability sets Magtec apart in the UK market.

Magtec is scaling up the production of its own-brand electric trucks, specifically the MEV75 7.5-tonne and MEV190 19-tonne models. 

Magtec also engages in the repowering of various truck chassis, offering a solution for companies seeking to retrofit existing fleets with electric drive systems. This service caters to a segment of the market that is not yet ready or able to invest in entirely new electric vehicles but is keen on transitioning its existing fleet.

What is the Current Charging Infrastructure for Electric Lorries in the UK?

The availability of public charging stations for electric lorries remains a significant challenge, with infrastructure not yet broadly established to cater to the needs of these larger electric vehicles. Unlike the more widespread charging options for electric cars, public charging facilities for HGVs are still in the early stages of development, making it less feasible for these vehicles to rely on public stations for their charging needs.

This is a critical area for development within the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure, underscoring the necessity for targeted investments and initiatives to support the growing fleet of electric trucks.

Mr Sloan suggests that currently “Charging infrastructure in the UK is typically at the fleet operator’s location. We size the battery capacity for the daily operations of a vehicle, removing reliance on public charging points.”

Who Are the Primary Early Adopters of Electric Lorries in the UK?

Logistics and Delivery Companies
These businesses are at the forefront of adopting electric lorries to reduce their carbon footprint and comply with urban low-emission zones. They use electric vehicles for both short-haul and last-mile deliveries, benefiting from lower operational costs and meeting increasing consumer demand for greener delivery options.

Retailers and Supermarkets
Major retailers and supermarket chains are incorporating electric lorries into their fleets as part of their sustainability initiatives. Volvo recently announced it’s supplying Tescos with an electric truck to help meet its own 2035 zero-emission target.

Waste Management and Recycling Services
Companies in the waste management sector are increasingly turning to electric lorries for their operations, attracted by the reduced noise and emissions. This is good news for urban areas, where noise pollution and air quality are significant concerns.

Public Sector and Local Governments
Some local authorities and public sector organisations use electric lorries for various services, including maintenance vehicles and refuse collection, to lead by example in adopting green tech.

Magtec trucks “are ideal for last-mile logistics, delivery operations, refuse collection and niche markets where an operator has an expensive body and wants to retain value and win contracts that demand a proportion of fleets be electric. Examples include impact protection, aviation refuelling and prison transport vehicles. Magtec repower assets like these.”

Strategies for Integrating Electric Lorries into Your Fleet

Speaking with experienced partners like Magtec is the right way to get insights and support to transition to an electric fleet. Here are key strategies Magtec would use to help integrate electric trucks into your fleet:

Evaluate Your Operations
The first step involves a thorough analysis of your current operations to identify which vehicles can be transitioned to electric without disrupting service. This assessment is crucial in determining the feasibility and scale of electrification that suits your specific needs.

Right-Size Battery Capacity
It’s essential to size the battery capacity based on the average daily requirements rather than the maximum range needed on rare occasions. For instance, purchasing a fleet based on the needs of one truck that covers 200 miles once a fortnight is not cost-effective. Tailoring the battery capacity to daily operations is the most efficient approach.

Review Charging Infrastructure Capacity
Understanding your charging infrastructure capacity is pivotal. Before investing in high-powered DC charging facilities, consider the actual time your vehicles spend parked.

For vehicles parked overnight for 10 hours or more, low-cost AC charging options could suffice, offering savings on infrastructure costs. 

Magtec experienced a customer who used a 22 kWh AC charger for a bus with a 280 kWh battery, instead of opting for a more expensive and infrastructure-intensive 100 kWh DC charger, they were able to charge the bus just fine as it was parked overnight in the same location. 

The choice between AC and DC charging should align with your operational patterns. If your fleet vehicles have ample downtime, such as overnight parking, leveraging slower, more economical AC charging can be highly effective. This approach avoids the higher costs associated with installing and operating fast-charging DC infrastructure, without compromising the readiness of your fleet.

MORE> Making The Switch to Electric HGVs

Recent Technological Advancements by Magtec in EV Technology

We asked Mr Sloan about Magtec’s latest technological advancements, he said Magtec are “excited to be partnering with Veolia on a world-first vehicle-to-grid innovation that will enable waste collection trucks to power UK homes by feeding back stored energy from their batteries to the grid. 

“The UK’s largest waste collection fleet operator plans to electrify all of its 1,800 refuse collection vehicles by 2040. This transformation will enable the company to provide around 200 MW of flexible power capacity to the grid daily, an equivalent of the evening peak energy demand of over 150,000 homes, supporting the country’s energy security.”

Magtec’s Upcoming Projects and Innovations

A standout project in our pipeline is the introduction of Magtec’s next-generation battery technology. This cutting-edge battery is poised to be 30% lighter than its predecessors, offering benefits in terms of efficiency and performance.

Magtec is also enhancing the user experience with the rollout of a digital instrument cluster across various vehicle types. This upgrade is designed to modernise the driver interface, enhancing both the look and the functionality of their electric vehicles.

Beyond technological advancements, Magtec is deeply invested in sustainability and the principles of the circular economy. The company is exploring several avenues to improve its environmental impact, including the recovery of rare earth magnetic materials from older products. 

Another exciting development is the work on bi-directional charging capabilities. This technology allows Magtec vehicles to contribute electricity back to the grid, offering a potential solution to energy supply challenges.

Lastly, Magtec is investigating the integration of solar energy storage solutions. This project aims to decrease Magtec’s dependence on conventional power grids, moving them closer to a self-sustaining operational model.

The Final Word on Magtec and the UK Electric Lorry Market

Technological innovations are pivotal for the future of the electric lorry market in the UK. 

As the UK moves towards its ambitious goals for emissions reduction, the role of companies like Magtec becomes increasingly significant. The continued focus on innovation, sustainability, and the circular economy will undoubtedly play a critical role in ensuring the electric lorry market’s growth and success. From the development of next-generation, lighter batteries to their ground-breaking vehicle-to-grid initiatives, Magtec demonstrates the UK electric lorry sector is in great shape.

We extend our thanks to Andrew Sloan for his contribution to this discussion and insight into Magtec.

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