Almost all new refuse collection vehicles in London should be electric, according to Carlos Rodrigues, MD of Renault Trucks.

Briefing journalists in London last week, Rodrigues said it was time to “walk the talk” and take the immediate opportunity to follow progress in electric buses by electrifying the waste sector.

“The vast majority of RCV vehicles could be electric today,” he argued. “Industry and society need good news stories to help build experience.”

Renault Trucks has had a good five years in the UK and Ireland, increasing sales volumes by more than 50% since 2019. This has been helped by strong sales of electric vehicles “across the whole range” as many of its customers and their customers “must show decarbonisation in their supply chain as part of the Scope 3 element of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol”.

But Rodrigues joined the chorus of criticism of the UK government for slow progress on charging infrastructure. “Whilst technical solutions to bring power to customers’ depots are available, they may be expensive and slow down the take-up of battery electric vehicles,” he said. “For commercial vehicles, when it comes to on-road charging, the infrastructure does not exist in the UK today. More needs to be done to give customers clarity on where and by when the infrastructure will be ready.

“Whilst there is an appetite for electrification, and almost all OEMs are ready to help, there is no real sense of urgency. We believe the wider industry’s ambitions to decarbonise are being held back because companies have not yet been driven to act.”

He cited lack of progress on introducing zero emission zones in UK cities and “historic lack of investment and policy to support EVs”, including delays in announcing the winners of £200m in promised government funding for zero emissions freight trials.

Renault Trucks is preparing for the launch of its electric T (pictured) and C ranges up to 44 tonnes for the haulage and construction sectors respectively. With battery packs rated at up to 540kWh they will have a range of up to 300kms and will join the electric D distribution truck introduced in 2020. There are now over 1,000 Renault E-Tech electric vehicles on UK roads with operators large and small including IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Tarmac, Warburtons, Tesco, Mitchell’s of Mansfield and Welch’s Transport.

Turning to the UK HGV market, Rodrigues said that while “pent-up demand” for new trucks would see strong sales growth in 2023 year, “predicting 2024 is challenging”.

“Supply chain disruptions should improve but the impact on the demand of inflationary pressures across the whole value chain and high interest rates impacting funding capabilities of our customers remains to be seen,” he added.

Commercial director James Charnock said Renault Trucks finished 2022 with a 7.5% share of the UK truck market, and that “an excellent start to 2023 and a full order book gives us confidence that this year will be even better”.

He attributed this strong performance to investment in the dealer network to increase coverage and improve consistency of service and the positive reception for the ‘Evolution’ models of both the T and C ranges.