FedEx Ground Photo 143836619 © Andreistanescu
© Andreistanescu

Europe’s road freight sector must not ‘put all its eggs in the one electrification basket’ if it is to meet the EU’s green agenda.

FedEx Express European road network SVP Martin Gussinklo told The Loadstar he was not confident electrification alone would be sufficient to meet the European Parliament’s demands for 45% of the sector to be running on renewable energy by 2030.

“We have a lot of international long-haul movements, which means we can see where the challenge is when it comes to sustainability goals,” he said.

“The tech remains limited; electrification is nice for short distance – great for connecting domestic routings – but it’s the vehicles themselves that are lacking when it comes to long-haul routings, because electric vehicles cannot yet cover the distances.”

In November, FedEx began running some of its own trucks on “renewable diesel”, made from organic matter and waste materials, on certain routes in the Netherlands as part of a test to see how viable the fuel was for longer-distance journeys and how it would impact existing vehicles.

With the test ending next month, Mr Gussinklo said the company was “optimistic” that it may help get it closer to its internal 2040 goals. He said: “It looks promising and would reduce emissions by 80%.

“Our goal for 2040 is to be carbon-neutral, and I think this renewable fuel can get us there, or at least help us get there. If I were to ask for anything else, I think it would be for mass-produced hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, but these are not ready yet.”

For many, the absence of infrastructure and the divergence between EU member states on availability of charging points remains a major bone of contention, particularly among SME hauliers, which make up 70% of capacity and lack the cash to buy expensive electric trucks.

Even if charging points were to become more prevalent across trunk and smaller road networks, Mr Gussinklo said he still could not see electric as the way forward for long-haul.

“I really think I will have to rely on alternative renewable fuels, because firstly the infrastructure just isn’t there, but even if charging posts were on a Netherlands-Italy route, it would mean just too many stops for electric vehicles,” he explained.

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