Wednesday, February 19, 2020

How to Be a Road Haulage Contractor with a Fleet of HGVs Yet Not Bother with an O Licence

Too Good (or Bad) to Be True? Read On
Shipping News Feature

UK – Looking through the various stipulations from the Traffic Commissioners (as we transport nerds tend to do) our editor was surprised to note the following clause in the requirements for an operator's licence remains on the appropriate page, namely:

Categories of vehicles that are exempt:

Several types of vehicle do not need an operator’s licence, including:

  • military vehicles
  • snow ploughs and gritters
  • emergency service vehicles (including those used by gas, electricity, water and telephone companies)
  • electric or steam powered vehicles

Now, granted such trucks do not produce either noxious emissions, nor potentially any degree of noise pollution but it obviously beggars belief that 40 tonne plus electrically powered road haulage vehicles will be allowed onto the highway with no ‘O’ licence in place ensuring correct maintenance procedures and intervals etc.

To ascertain such controversial information was accurate, we approached the Office of the Traffic Commissioners who did indeed confirm that currently, those experimental electrically powered rigs we have written so much about, are able to drive serenely on British roads with no mandatory reason to have safety and brake checks, those tiresome driver walk rounds on cold, frosty mornings and possibly even tachograph checks.

Just last week we saw CEVA Logistics begin a trial of 2 twelve tonne rigid trucks supplied by Chelmsford headquartered Tevva, and powered by hydrogen, which of course means the actual drivetrain motors are running on electricity via lithium batteries charged from the gas. We spoke to a Marketing Director for an electric HGV manufacturer for his comments and, whilst not wishing to be quoted, he echoed our own thoughts.

Broadly speaking it is not necessary to have an Operator’s Licence when purchasing an electrically powered truck, no matter the weight. However his, like other similar companies, strongly advise the vehicles are added to the existing O Licence with immediate effect. As such companies tend to be at the top of the industry, and currently simply trialling the trucks as part of a vast fleet with an eye to future purchase policy, this has seemingly been successful so far.

Doubtless this is a loophole which must soon be filled. If the government’s aspirations for a zero carbon road transport environment are to be realised then, without a change in the regulations, the Operator’s Licence would theoretically fade from the memory, with unregulated leviathans permitted to legitmately rove around British roads, free of the very legislation designed to keep the public safe.

Photo: Like every other major manufacturer this concept all electric truck from Hyundai is being given serious consideration as a possible production model.