The NextETRUCK project is halfway through its journey to decarbonising urban deliveries with new fleets of affordable, competitive and environmentally friendly electric medium-duty trucks. The project’s mid-term conference brought the project consortium, the European Commission and other stakeholders together for a face-to-face exchange on progress. The event underscored the critical role of collaboration between cities, other zero-emission freight projects and truck manufacturers (OEMs).

Project partners reported on the key areas of progress in developing electric delivery trucks. A crucial innovation is the digital twin model, which gathers real-time data from traffic conditions to battery performance. This data is compared to a baseline to assess efficiency and will be used to calculate total ownership costs. Another important focus is optimising charging. The project’s researchers are testing different battery systems and creating charging plans for depots that consider available stations, truck locations and loading schedules. These advancements aim to ensure that electric trucks are more sustainable but also practical and cost-effective for daily use. To validate their effectiveness in real-world conditions, the project will deploy these innovations in operational use cases launching in 2025 across Istanbul, London, and Barcelona.

AEVETO Cluster: A collaborative force for electrifying European roads

The conference agenda included a spotlight on the AEVETO (Advanced Electric Vehicles for Efficient and Economic Transport Operations) Cluster, a hub for EU-funded research projects aimed at accelerating the adoption of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). The cluster features the H2Haul, ZEFES, ESCALATE and EMPOWER projects. Originally focused on heavy-duty trucks, it expanded to medium-duty vehicles with the inclusion of the NextETRUCK project.

This collaboration aligns with the goals of the 2ZERO Partnership mission, ERTRAC roadmap on electrification and ALICE roadmap towards zero emissions. Together, the AEVETO projects seek to pool their achievements, create synergies, and engage stakeholders to overcome challenges faced on the road to electric transportation. By joining forces, these projects pave the way for a future dominated by electric trucks on European roads.

Electrifying urban deliveries: challenges and solutions

The conference explored the roadblocks and opportunities in the decarbonisation of urban deliveries during a panel discussion with external experts Julia Hildermeier (The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)), Ian Catlow (City of London) and Steven Wilkins (TNO). Among the main topics of discussion was the significant investment that the power grid requires to handle the increased demand for electric trucks. Simplifying the permitting process and modernising networks with smart charging technologies are crucial steps. Furthermore, a lack of consistent policies across European cities creates uncertainty for manufacturers and operators. Cities’ role is essential in addressing this by establishing dedicated charging infrastructure around freight depots, considering their high-power needs during both peak and off-peak hours.

Additionally, universities and training programs need to equip the workforce with the skills needed to maintain and operate electric freight systems. Manufacturers, grid operators, freight companies, and cities need to work together to develop a seamless plan for charging infrastructure and simplify regulations. The panel highlighted that intelligent charging management systems can significantly reduce peak power demands, making electric freight operations more cost-effective. This ambition is mirrored for medium-duty trucks.

The EU pushes for a clean future with electric trucks

The European Union is taking concrete steps to encourage the shift to electric trucks. Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed the targets to drastically reduce heavy-duty vehicles’ emissions by 45% by 2023, and up to 90% by 2040. Electric heavy-duty trucks are expected to become the dominant force. This ambition is also mirroring medium-duty trucks. Several countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming for 30% of new medium-duty trucks to be electric by 2030, reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The NextETRUCK project is funded by the 2ZERO. The partnership also backs the acceleration of sustainable solutions to transition towards zero tailpipe emission road mobility across Europe through research and innovation. NextETRUCK will demonstrate how electric trucks can be a practical and sustainable solution for sustainable urban deliveries.