The truck startup Tevva has become the first company to start high-volume production of electric lorries in the UK.
The company has started making its 7.5 tonne electric truck for customers at a facility in Tilbury, Essex, after receiving European type approval – the regulatory clearance required by all volume manufacturers.
Tevva, which means “nature” in Hebrew, was founded in 2013 by Asher Bennett, a former submariner in the Israeli navy. He is the older brother of Naftali Bennett, the former entrepreneur who became a far-right politician and served as the prime minister of Israel for a year until last June.
The trucks built this year in Tilbury will go to customers including the Royal Mail and the builders’ supplier Travis Perkins, with the aim of selling 1,000 vehicles in 2023. It has had test vehicles on the road with the delivery company UPS since late 2019.
Decarbonising lorries will be a crucial part of the world’s efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions. About 19% of the UK’s carbon emissions from transport in 2020 were from heavy goods vehicles, according to the Department for Transport.
However, truck manufacturers are lagging behind carmakers in preparing for the transition away from fossil fuels because batteries have been too heavy and expensive to use at the scale needed in a lorry travelling long distances.
Tevva is not the first company to produce electric lorries in the UK: the Dutch lorrymaker DAF Trucks builds its 19-tonne LF Electric at its Leyland subsidiary in Lancashire. However, DAF is not producing hundreds of trucks a year on a production line.
The Tevva trucks will have a 140-miles range from a 105kWh battery, which is nearly double the size of those used in a standard electric car.
Tevva, which has been backed by investors including the Indian conglomerate Bharat Forge, is also planning to build hydrogen-powered lorries that would be capable of refilling more quickly than battery lorries can charge, potentially allowing them to tackle longer distances. Those lorries would come in 12- and 19-tonne models, with production of the latter scheduled to start in Tilbury in 2024.
Tevva is planning to eventually produce trucks in the EU, the US and the Gulf.
The world’s biggest lorry manufacturers are also working on electric and hydrogen lorries, although they are still unclear over which technology will become dominant for longer journeys. Daimler Truck last year produced a long-haul electric lorry, while Tesla delivered its first electric semi trucks in December – five years after the chief executive, Elon Musk, unveiled the prototype.