One-fifth of fleets plan to try alternative fuels within three years, says latest CM research

One-in-five operators plan to acquire alternative-fuelled trucks in the next three years, new research reveals, demonstrating a growing appetite for new technology.

The ‘Asset Alliance Group Industry Monitor 2021’, compiled in partnership with Motor Transport and Commercial Motor, also discovered that just over half (51%) of respondents said they had no current plans to buy non-diesel trucks, however with the caveat “this might change”. The remaining 29% stated they had no intentions to try alternatives.

Gas-powered trucks topped the list when it came to which alternative fuels operators were looking to try, with 8% looking at liquefied natural gas (LNG) and 6% considering compressed natural gas (CNG).

A further 9% were planning on plugging into battery electric vehicle technology, while 6% were exploring range-extended electric options.

Drop-in fuels such as hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO) and gas to liquid (GTL), as well as hydrogen were also on the radar for some operators.

Finances and a lack of public refuelling infrastructure topped the list when it came to the barriers cited by operators for trying new fuels and technology.

But more than half (52%) of respondents would be more inclined to try alternative fuels if there was a financial incentive from the government, such as reduced tax or maybe a scrappage scheme.

Non-financial operational incentives, such as more access to restricted kerb-sides or additional delivery windows, would also encourage one-fifth of respondents.

Free to download, the ‘Asset Alliance Group Industry Monitor 2021’ comprises a robust 625-strong respondent base.

A must-read for all fleet operators, it provides analysis of key challenges – such as urban regulations, the national driver shortage and truck crime – and gauges the impact they are having on business of all sizes.


Operator wakes up and addresses failings


The traffic commissioner has allowed a partial increase in licence authority for a Norfolk haulage operator, after it addressed shortcomings in its compliance systems.

Attleborough-based Skillplane sought an increase from four HGVs to 11 and to add another operating centre in Hackford, but concerns were raised about the findings in an earlier RHA audit that revealed maintenance weaknesses, as well as a failure to inform the TC about a change in transport manager. In addition, one of the company’s lorries was stopped by the DVSA and it was found that the driver’s Driver CPC had expired two months earlier. A follow-up DVSA assessment also uncovered an initial annual test pass rate of only 60% and concerns that PMI intervals were being exceeded.

At a virtual public inquiry before TC Richard Turfitt, Skillplane director Ivan Stubbings said its drivers would all be employed in the future and not classed as self-employed. Licences would be subject to systematic checking going forwards, PMI checks had been tightened up and the operator had implemented its own driver defect reporting forms. In addition, the company had employed a transport consultant to provide regular consultancy services and assist the transport manager.

In his written decision, Turfitt said the operator had “woken up to shortcomings” and allowed an increase to seven HGVs.