Welcome to Electric Car Guides look at electric Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). In this guide, we aim to give you a thorough overview of electric HGVs, their benefits, limitations and practical considerations for anyone looking to move from diesel to an electric lorry.
Whether you are a fleet manager or an owner-operator truck driver, this guide will bring you up to speed in the world of electric HGVs.
What is an electric HGV?
HGV stands for heavy goods vehicle, which means any commercial vehicle weighing more than 3.5 tonnes (such as an artic lorry).
An Electric Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) is powered by electricity, as opposed to diesel or petrol. Electric HGVs, much like other electric vehicles, utilise one or more electric motors to drive, which are powered by rechargeable battery packs.
Electric HGVs vary significantly in terms of their size, range, carrying capacity, and functions. They can range from mid-sized trucks used for local deliveries to larger lorries designed for long-haul heavy goods delivery. The range and load capacity of an electric HGV largely depend on the size and capacity of its battery pack, as well as the efficiency of its electric motor.
Are there electric HGVs in the UK?
Yes, there are already plenty of electric lorries on the roads in the UK, and several manufacturers have announced plans to introduce electric HGVs to the market. Electric truck manufacturers currently operating in the UK include Renault Trucks, DAF and Mercedes-Benz.
In January 2023 Tevva announced they will commence the mass production of electric lorries in East Tilbury, Essex. Giving Tevva a platform to sell within the UK and throughout Europe.
What electric HGVs are available to buy in the UK?
Here is a list of the electric HGV models that are currently available in the UK market:
- Renault Trucks Master Z.E.
- Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E.
- DAF CF Electric
- DAF LF Electric
- DAF XF Electric
- Volvo FL Electric
- Volvo FE Electric
- Mercedes-Benz eActros
- MAN eTGM
- FUSO eCanter
- Iveco S-Way Electric
- Scania Electric R-Series
- Tevva 7.5-tonne
- Tevva 12-tonne
What is the range of an electric HGV?
How far an electric HGV can travel on a single charge will vary depending on the size of the battery, the weight of the load that is being transported and how the truck is driven. Tesla’s Semi truck, an all-electric HGV, is expected to have a range of up to 500 miles on a full charge! However, these are yet to be launched in the UK.
Let’s take a look at the maximum range of electric lorries currently available in the UK:
|Electric HGV||Range (Km)|
|Renault Trucks D.Z.E||300|
|Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E||120|
|Electric Mercedes-Benz eActros||200|
The DAF XF has the longest range of 500 km per charge, beneficial for longer delivery routes or multi-drops.
The Renault Trucks D.Z.E is not far behind, with an impressive range of 300 km, offering a great balance between range and performance. The Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E has a modest range of 120 km, making it more suited to short urban routes or last-mile deliveries. The DAF CF and LF models, along with the Tevva 12-tonne, are closer to the middle of the pack with ranges of 220 km, which should provide enough range for a typical short-haul journey.
How does the range of an electric HGV compare to a diesel HGV
The average range of the electric trucks we reviewed is 220 km, far lower than that of a diesel HGV. A typical diesel HGV can travel over 1,200 km on a full tank of diesel. This long-range, combined with a more established network of refuelling stations, is one why diesel vehicles have dominated the freight industry and it has been challenging for Electric trucks to HGVs.
What is the top speed of an electric HGV?
The top speeds of an electric truck will vary depending on the power of a battery and the load of the HGV. Most electric HGVs are designed more with a focus on torque, cargo capacity, and efficiency rather than high top speeds, as these vehicles are typically used for cargo transport over both short and long distances.
Here are the top speeds for electric HGVs in the UK:
|Electric HGV||Top Speed (mph)|
|Renault Trucks D.Z.E||75|
|Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E||56|
|Electric Mercedes-Benz eActros||50|
Looking at the top speeds, the Renault Trucks D.Z.E stands out, boasting a top speed of 75 mph.
The Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E, the DAF series (CF, XF, and LF), and the Electric Mercedes-Benz eActros all have similar top speeds in the low 50s mph. The two Tevva models also hit the 50 mph mark, which is quite standard for urban and regional delivery trucks and is adequate for most HGV journies.
How much does an electric HGV cost?
The initial cost of electric HGVs is usually higher than their diesel counterparts. However, the total cost of ownership over the vehicle’s lifetime can be lower for electric HGVs due to savings in fuel costs, reduced maintenance costs, and possible government incentives or grants.
Pricing for newer electric HGVs is often not publicly disclosed and is instead discussed directly between dealers and buyers. We have compiled a list of approximate prices based on the cost of an equivalent brand-new diesel HGV, with an expected markup for EV technology:
|Electric HGV||Approx starting price (£)|
|Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E||£180,000|
Pricing for electric lorries depends on the spec, most ranges have a wide selection of options for you to choose from in terms of battery, features and cab customization.
The Renault Trucks D Wide Z.E, is priced at approximately £180,000, despite its relatively low range of 120 Km.
The DAF CF and LF models, priced at approximately £200,000 and £170,000 respectively, both have a top speed of 53 mph.
The CF offers a range of 220 Km, while the LF matches this range, making these models a solid middle ground in terms of cost, speed, and range balance.
Lastly, the Tevva models provide an interesting comparison. The 7.5-tonne model, priced at around £140,000, has a range of 160 Km and a top speed of 50 mph. Meanwhile, the 12-tonne model, which costs around £160,000, offers a range of 200 Km and the same top speed of 50 mph.
How much does an electric HGV cost compared to a diesel HGV?
The cost of an electric HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) can be significantly higher than a comparable diesel HGV. It’s not uncommon for an electric HGV to cost up to twice as much as its diesel counterpart for the initial purchase. So, if a typical diesel HGV might cost in the range of £80,000 – £100,000, an electric HGV could potentially have an upfront cost of £160,000 – £200,000 or even more.
However, while the upfront costs of electric HGVs can be considerably higher, it’s essential to consider the total cost of ownership over the vehicle’s operational lifespan. Electric vehicles often have lower running costs than diesel vehicles due to cheaper ‘fuel’ costs (electricity vs diesel), less frequent maintenance needs, and potential tax advantages.
Who is the biggest electric truck company?
The electric truck market in the UK is still evolving and is it difficult to identify a stand-out ‘biggest’ electric truck company in the UK.
When you look at diesel and electric combined though, DAF trucks are the biggest truck company based on market share. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), DAF Trucks had a market share of 28.5% in 2021, selling 7,286 trucks, while Volvo Trucks had a market share of 20.7%, selling 5,303 trucks.
Renault Trucks and Mercedes-Benz Trucks also have a good presence in the UK market, with market shares of 9.1% and 8.5%, respectively.
Do electric HGVs pay road tax?
Electric HGVs do not currently pay any road tax in the UK, as all-electric vehicles are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). However, in 2025 this will change when the government brings in new road tax rules for electric vehicles.
HGVs are subject to a separate tax called the Heavy Goods Vehicle Road User Levy. This levy applies to all HGVs of 12 tonnes or more, irrespective of fuel type. The levy’s purpose is to ensure these heavy vehicles contribute to the wear and tear of the road network.
Can I get a grant for an electric HGV?
The UK government offers several incentives to promote the use of Electric HGVs.
The Plug-in Van Grant (PIVG) is available for both electric vans and electric HGVs. A discount of £25,000 is available for eligible vehicles. In order to qualify for a grant an electric HGV must be heavier than 12,000kg and have an electric-only range of at least 96km.
Unlike other OZEV grants, there is no need to make an application for a Plug-in Van Grant, the discount will be provided by the electric HGV dealer at the time of purchase. If the electric HGV you are buying is eligible, the dealer will include the value of the grant in the vehicle’s price.
This simplified process makes it more straightforward for businesses to make use of the grant when purchasing an electric HGV, without the need for complex application forms.
Is it easy to charge electric HGVs in the UK?
The charging infrastructure for Electric Vehicles in the UK is improving but still poses challenges for larger vehicles like electric HGVs. The 2 main issues facing EV charging are the availability of charging stations and the lengths of time it takes to charge such a big vehicle:
- Availability of charging stations
While the UK has a growing network of public charging points, not all of these are suitable for large vehicles like HGVs. Businesses operating electric HGVs may need to rely on private charging infrastructure at depots or distribution centres. There have been initiatives to increase the number of high-power charging stations, but it’s not yet comparable to the infrastructure available for smaller vehicles.
- Charging speed
Charging times for electric HGVs are longer due to their larger battery capacities. Fast charging stations, capable of delivering higher rates of power, can help reduce these times, but again, these are not as widely available as standard charging points.
So, while it is possible to charge electric HGVs in the UK, there can be logistical challenges to consider. The situation is likely to improve over time as the electric vehicle infrastructure continues to develop.
The main alternative to consider is re-fuelling in your private depot: A report by the national grid suggests that “70-90% of HGVs will be charged or re-fuelled overnight in their depot or at their destinations”. The remaining 10-30% are still relying on traditional petrol stations and public charge stations to catch up with the demand for electric HGV charging.
Can I convert my diesel or petrol HGV to electric?
It is theoretically possible to convert a petrol or diesel vehicle to electric, but it is a really complex process that may end up costing a considerable amount of money. You will basically need to remove the entire engine and replace it with an electric motor, battery, power controller and various other complex components.
There are a few factors to consider:
- Technical Complexity
The process is highly complex and involves not just the replacement of the engine, but also the installation of new components like electric motors, battery packs, and power management systems. It also involves making substantial changes to the vehicle’s cooling systems, weight distribution, and drivetrain.
Conversion can be quite costly, especially for larger vehicles like HGVs. The costs include not only the hardware but also the labour involved in carrying out the conversion.
- Regulations and compliance
Converted vehicles must still comply with all relevant safety standards. In many jurisdictions, they may need to be re-certified as roadworthy after the conversion.
- Performance and range
While an electric conversion can lead to lower running costs over time, the range will be less than that of the original diesel or petrol vehicle.
Given these complexities, it’s definitely more cost-effective and efficient to buy an electric HGV, especially as more and more models are entering the market.
Will electric trucks replace diesel trucks?
Governments around the world are setting ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the measures include banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, in the UK the deadline for the ban on traditional fuel HGVs is 2040, so yes – electric trucks will eventually replace diesel trucks!
The replacement of diesel HGVs with electric HGVs will likely be a gradual process as companies take time to switch to electric. That being said, the transition to electric HGVs is already well underway in many UK sectors. Electric HGVs are a viable, cost-effective alternative to diesel provided the UK charging infrastructure is able to catch up with the demand.
The final word on electric HGVs
Overall, the electric HGV market in the UK is still relatively small, but it is growing all the time as more businesses start to transition to zero-emission vehicles.
In addition to the existing HGV manufacturers, there are many exciting new companies such as Arrival and Volta Trucks that are starting to work on new electric lorry designs for the UK market.
While the upfront costs are notably higher than diesel HGVs, electric HGVs provide plenty of long-term benefits such as reduced fuel and maintenance costs and tax benefits.
The availability of different models from leading manufacturers like Renault Trucks, DAF, Tevva, and Mercedes-Benz means businesses have a variety of options to consider.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that despite the promising prospects, transitioning to electric HGVs is not without challenges. Limited charging infrastructure, relatively lower range compared to diesel vehicles, and higher upfront costs are some of the hurdles businesses may face.
Yet, with governments pushing for greener alternatives, improvements in battery technology, and increased environmental consciousness, the adoption of electric HGVs will accelerate and they will become a viable option for UK lorry drivers.
Ready to dive even deeper...
John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.