Maritime Transport has placed a major order for 18 battery-electric, 42-tonne tractor units - the first consignment of 48 battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, which are set to be deployed across its network, as a participant in the Zero Emission HGV and Infrastructure Demonstrator (ZEHID).

The zero-emission trucks, supplied by Scania, Renault Trucks, and DAF, will be integrated into Maritime’s fleet as part of the eFREIGHT 2030 consortium, led by Voltempo.

The consortium is one of four selected to join ZEHID and is being part-funded by the DfT in partnership with Innovate UK to support the freight sector on its path to net zero.

By 2026, there will be 11 fleets within the Voltempo consortium deploying electric HGVs and a nationwide HGV charging network using British-built chargers. Each charge hub will provide at least six charge bays and 1MW of power.

Maritime, which has its headquarters in Felixstowe, said that this latest fleet expansion is the largest of its kind and also the most substantial placed by any member of a ZEHID consortium to date.

Wrapped in the company’s distinctive blue and white livery, the new 4x2 trucks are fully equipped with the very latest vehicle technology and capable of delivering a range from 300km up to 500km, and will be used across Maritime’s eight strategic rail freight terminals as well as for distribution to and from major UK ports.

The introduction of these trucks is a core component of Maritime’s environmental agenda to accelerate a modal shift of containerised and domestic product to rail with battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks used for first and final mile deliveries, and to reduce emissions and cut road congestion.

The trucks are planned to arrive from late 2024 and into early 2025. Electric charging stations will also be installed across the company’s network of 41 transport depots, rail terminals, and dedicated container storage sites.

Tom Williams, Maritime Transport deputy chief executive, said: “This investment places us at the forefront of our industry’s transition to sustainable operations and we are excited to initiate this phase of our environmental strategy.

“Our active participation in ZEHID and pioneering initiatives like eFREIGHT 2030 over the next five years is set to yield vital insights for the government’s long-term infrastructure decisions to make road freight more sustainable and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Acknowledging the variations in range and payload, we believe these vehicles will substantially contribute to our efforts in providing sustainable and efficient services to our customers, complementing our growing network of rail freight services and terminals.”

Michael Boxwell, Voltempo group chief executive and eFREIGHT 2030 consortium lead, added: “We’re delighted to see Maritime placing its first order for electric HGVs as part of the eFREIGHT 2030 consortium, demonstrating the ambition and commitment that will help transform freight logistics and accelerate the uptake of zero emission HGVs.”

Chris Newitt, Scania MD, hailed the move as a ”landmark moment” marking the beginning of the UK’s transition to a zero-emission HGV future.

He added that the demonstrator programme will ”learn so much about operating and using these vehicles day-to-day. The next step will be how can we use that knowledge to influence long-term decision making for the best interests of our industries.”

Adam Bennett, DAF Trucks EV and sustainability manager said: ”DAF is delighted to be collaborating with Maritime Transport by providing DAF XF Electric 4x2 tractor units, with a range capability of up to 400km, for use on their operations.

“This partnership, as part of the Zero Emission HGV and Infrastructure Demonstrator, underscores our shared vision for the future of logistics.”

Matt Sadler, Renault Truck Commercials sales director, added: “Renault Trucks is proud to be part of this ground-breaking initiative with Maritime Transport and the eFREIGHT 2030 consortium.

“Our battery-electric trucks represent a significant step towards achieving sustainable freight transport, and we’re thrilled they will soon be integrated into Maritime’s fleet. This partnership emphasises our commitment to providing innovative solutions that help drive the industry towards a greener future.”