First they came for the humble toothbrush… then the family car. Now it seems the process of electrification has stretched out to include even the heaviest of vehicles on our roads.
The increased popularity of electric and hybrid cars – such as the Toyota Prius – and indeed the proliferation of charging points on our streets has, perhaps, opened the eyes of local councils and private industry to the benefits of electrification. Because the roads are also populated with bigger vehicles – buses, vans, trucks and other commercial vehicles – moving freight, moving people, and pumping emissions into the atmosphere. And it is now towards these vehicles that the process of electrification is turning, as our heavier friends go electric.
This development is being driven by companies such as ZF. A German company already supplying automatic transmissions for car brands such as Land Rover, Porsche, Audi and BMW, ZF is now moving into electrification of heavier vehicles, and supplying the necessary components for these new electric engines. There are very clear benefits to be had from the increased electrification of vehicles, of course, and ZF is fully behind the need for business to combat climate change and reduce the carbon footprint of the vehicles on our roads. We now live in an environment suffering with the consequences of decades of accumulated emissions. Diesel is now accepted to be particularly polluting, with moves within UK government to ultimately move away from diesel-powered vehicles, and additionally tax the diesel vehicles still on the roads. From a business perspective, using electric lorries can therefore help with logistics and the efficiency of transporting goods, when the cost of petrol and diesel is rising continuously and can sometimes be prohibitive. For local councils, using electric buses for transport can also engender positive PR messages in confronting our dependency of dwindling oil supplies, and a consequently positive message in terms of a carbon footprint.
Electrification of HGVs
If you imagine the long-term savings that running an electric car offers the family budget, then the same is true for a council, or a private business, only writ large. And of course in a difficult economic climate in the private sector, and central government clawing back money from local councils in the public, the more efficient you can be, the better for the longer-term performance, operating costs and overall health of that enterprise. It’s a question of investing to save, whether that be simple electrification, or indeed going even further. Because beyond electrification, technological developments have assisted with the overall economy of running heavier vehicles, with efficiency, and indeed safety, improved by intervehicle connectivity and even autonomous driving technology, although that is not without its controversy.
We have adjusted to a growing population, and a population more mobile and on the move, within a changing society where we are now used to goods being delivered to our very door. At the same time we are also in a climate of ambitious targets for reducing our traffic emissions. The increased electrification of vehicles, including haulage and heavy good vehicles, is one obvious path to meeting both emissions targets and the demands of the population. At the same time we want to be both safe, and efficient, pulling together to make a world where polluted cities, with roads full of diesel smoke, becomes a thing of the past. From individuals to governments, it’s safe to say we are all looking towards operating in a greener, cleaner environment, both in terms of business and, indeed, the planet itself.