At the global City Logistics Conference, Professor Joubert presented the results of a study on electric truck deployment for a company in South Africa.
Based on models on emissions, costs, charging requirements, customer orders, and routes, he arrived at a mixed fleet with one-third diesel trucks and two-thirds electric trucks as the best solution. The mixed fleet gave a feasible and affordable solution using the least number of vehicles and drivers. If electric trucks become cheaper and have a greater range, then the share of electric will increase over time.
The introduction of local zero-emission zones came up in the discussion. Those “hard” zones would mean that the company would need more vehicles and drivers, with more operational costs, and ultimately achieve lesser emissions reductions. Would that mean that zero-emission zones are less effective in practice? And also make it unnecessarily more expensive for companies.
Professor Joubert’s research raises the question of whether to make road transport more sustainable, opting for a zero-emissions “budget” and firmly pricing emissions would not be better. Then, companies can develop their fleets step by step, feasibly and affordably, toward total sustainability.
The zero-emission zones may be unnecessarily restrictive for companies and delay the transition to sustainable road transport. Maybe the UK initiative to slowly phase out traditional fuel vehicles might be a better plan.
Walther Ploos van Amstel.