Change is coming to the world of road transport. By as early as 2025, some countries are planning to completely phase out the sale of petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles in favour of electric vehicles. Mainland Europe is leading the way on this, with the Netherlands committed to selling only electric vehicles by 2025, while Norway wants all vehicles sold to be electric or hybrid by 2030. Norway are in fact well on the way to achieving this change: in 2016, 28% of all vehicles sold there were electric or hybrid.

While some other nations – such as the UK, USA and China – are lagging a little in their commitments to adopt electric vehicles, the change is happening and countries that fail to adapt risk being left behind the rest of the developed world. Interestingly, not all electric vehicles commitments are being made at national level, either: the Danish city of Copenhagen has plans in place to ban all diesel-fuelled vehicles by 2019, while Oxford plans to phase out sales of both petrol and diesel vehicles by the year 2020.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the move from fossil fuels to electric represents one of the biggest shifts since the invention of the motor vehicle, and it is arguably being driven mainly by the automotive industry itself, rather than by government decree. Pretty much every major auto manufacturer today produces at least one model of electric or hybrid car, while the availability of charging stations in public spaces is ever expanding.

What does this shift mean for the logistics industry?

Well for one thing, it’s important to realise that this isn’t some speculative, futuristic technology that might affect the industry a few years down the line. The technology is already here: Daimler recently unveiled its E-Fuso Vision One – a fully electric truck capable of hauling 11 tons, which can travel up to 217 miles on a single full charge. Tesla, meanwhile, revealed its own electric truck – the Tesla Semi – just last month, and secured a high-profile early endorsement in the form of an order for 100 trucks from food and drinks giant PepsiCo.

The shift from conventional fuel to electric-powered vehicles does represent a challenge for businesses working in the logistics and supply chain industries. Companies which own large existing fleets of petrol or diesel vehicles could start to see difficulties if and when national or city-level regulation begins to restrict the types of vehicle allowed on the road. However, as with any challenge, there’s the potential there for businesses that get ahead of the curve to turn that into a competitive advantage. Either way, the widespread adoption of electric tractor units is likely to redefine haulage once they reach their full potential.

More broadly, within the logistics industry we’re likely to see some increases in car shipping globally in the coming years, as electric vehicles finally become the norm and more and more countries legislate to reduce or eliminate the number of petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles on their streets. Whatever happens, our clients can be confident that Hemisphere will be ready to embrace the changes, and as always relish the challenge and opportunities new technologies and significant market shifts inevitably bring. Find out more about our road haulage services here and let us know if you have any questions about the future of UK freight.