Three-year, £32m LEFT programme to cut freight emissions published23 November 2020

The Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trials (LEFT) was a £20 million government-funded programme (2017-2020) to cut emissions and improve air quality by focusing on emissions-busting technologies for trucks and vans.

As explained in the published report (available via the link at the end), the trials found that there is a wide range of revolutionary, transitionary and evolutionary technologies and alternative fuels that can all help to decarbonise commercial vehicles and road freight both in the next few years and out to 2050. The battery electric vehicles and range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs) achieved significant emission reductions across almost all cycles and assessment criteria, and all of the other technologies achieved improvements in at least some.

The LEFT report points to a range of tried and tested solutions which it categorises as ‘Revolution’, ‘Transition’ and ‘Evolution’ technologies depending on the potential contribution to the net zero agenda:

  • Revolution technologies include battery electric vehicles
  • Transition technologies include range-extended electric vehicles; dedicated gas vehicles and hydrogen/gas dual fuel vehicles
  • Evolution technologies include lightweight & aerodynamic trailers and trailer kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS).

In these industry-led trials, vehicles have been used in all driving operations to show how these low and zero emission alternative technologies can make a difference and to encourage their widespread introduction to UK fleets. Eight of the funded consortia completed the trials. All the projects monitored vehicles in service within their fleets and analysed their own data. TRL carried out data collection and independent analysis of the performance, cost savings and environmental impacts of the trial vehicles. Uniquely for this programme, every technology was put through comparative laboratory or track-based tests over the full operating range to give a direct comparison to the current state of the art conventional Euro VI diesel truck performance.

The programme allowed the emissions and energy performance of the LEFT technologies, and the practicalities of their in-fleet integration and implementation, to be compared with equivalent conventional diesel-powered Euro 6/VI vehicles.

The funding was delivered by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK, with extensive data management and analysis from the trials carried out by TRL supported by LowCVP and Millbrook.

Commenting on the trials and the report, LowCVP Managing Director Andy Eastlake said: “We’re seeing an acceleration in the rate of innovation towards lower emissions in the freight sector but there’s still a long way to go and we still need to understand the best technical options for different uses.

“The LEFT programme has significantly added to our understanding of the different options and has shone a light for fleet managers on the directions they can take now to cut emissions. It’s clear that this Government backing for trials of technology development projects has been instrumental in encouraging innovation and private-sector deployment of low emission vehicles and fuels that otherwise would not have happened.”

Dr Francesca Iudicello, programme manager – automotive, low & zero emission vehicles – UKRI, Innovate who helped to fund the trials, along with 12m of funding from participants, said: “The LEFT programme has produced invaluable data from freight and logistics trials for wide range of low and zero emission technologies and fuels, which will inform future government policy and shape decisions in the van and truck industry and operation. This is particularly important as the UK transport decarbonisation plan to meet net zero by 2050 is being finalised.”

Transport Engineer

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