EV Truck Startups Face These Two Big Hurdles

Jackson Wheeler
7 Min Read


  • UK-based electric truck startup Tevva calls for more government incentives and charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles at COP 28 climate summit.
  • Commercial EV startups that are still in business have faced significant supply chain issues and hikes in the costs of raw materials, while inching their way to production, issues that persist to this day.
  • The lack of progress on commercial EV charging infrastructure in the UK and the US has reduced progress in this segment to last-mile delivery vehicles with their own charging infrastructure.

EV truck startups have always faced an uphill battle, from finding the funding for development, to building up a manufacturing footprint, and proceeding to the production stage. Just a few have made it this far, only to find out that supplier issues and other factors can easily upset the delicate chain needed for continued production.

And we haven’t even gotten to the stage where market factors come into play when it comes to EV truck adoption.

Amid continuing turmoil in the EV truck industry that has already seen two big bankruptcies this year, British startup Tevva is calling for more incentives on the part of the UK government to help achieve a transition to battery-electric trucks.

Tevva is indeed one of the lucky few that have made it to the production stage, manufacturing the 7.5-tonne Tevva 7.5T capable of carrying 15 Euro pallets with a range of up to 111 miles.

But the mere fact of the start of mass production is not a guarantee of success for commercial EV startups, as we have seen earlier this year with Volta in Sweden.

a white truck parked outside a building

The medium-duty Tevva 7.5T offers a range of up to 180 kilometers, or 111 miles, and has been in full-scale production since January 2023.

Tevva

“As the UK has the most ambitious targets for battery-electric truck adoption, you’d think that the most attractive incentives would also be in place to stimulate demand, especially as we’re no longer bound by EU state aid rules limiting the amount of support governments can give specific industries,” the startup said in a statement during the COP 28 summit.

Tevva’s argument at the summit, while acknowledging the UK’s more ambitious ZEV targets than those found in the EU, addresses the more generous incentives available across the channel, specifically in Germany and the Netherlands.

“We’re no longer bound by EU state aid rules limiting the amount of support governments can give specific industries.”

The startup notes that in Germany, the government provides 80% of the price differential between a diesel a battery-electric truck, while the government of the Netherlands offers 45% of the price differential. For fleet buyers, these incentives translate to £50,000-£90,000 ($62,750-$113,000) per truck more than in the UK at the moment.

“We certainly do appreciate the British government’s support to date, but for this country to accelerate EV adoption and meet its net zero goals, more is needed,” Tevva said. “Brexit put us in a position where we were theoretically free from the ‘shackles’ of the European Union (EU) and free to pass our own legislation and create our own targets.”

The startup has also highlighted another issue that can hurt EV truck adoption in the near term and in the longer term, both for smaller startups and for existing truck makers that have fielded their own models.

The charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, while seeing some progress in Germany, is far more difficult to find in the UK, forcing trucks to rely solely on their own fleet infrastructure, which greatly reduces their operating range.

“At last week’s Motor Transport Decarbonization Summit in the UK, infrastructure was highlighted as the industry’s number one concern,” the company pointed out. “To say a lot rests on the success of the Zero Emission HGV and Infrastructure Demonstration program and other schemes is putting it mildly.”


the track club

Tevva’s calls for action at the climate summit come at a precarious time for UK and US-based EV truck startups, most of which have seen significant setbacks early on in the pandemic and now find themselves still facing the same industry pressures as half a decade ago.

The UK’s delay of its zero-emission target from 2030 to 2035 for passenger car sales earlier this year did not help EV manufacturers, many of whom felt betrayed, while the slow progress of EV infrastructure has still been aimed mostly at private vehicles rather than commercial ones.

“Volta Trucks filed for bankruptcy due to supply chain issues, although there is hope for them on the horizon,” Tevva said in a statement. “North American startups are burning through cash reserves as they struggle to ramp up production in the face of dwindling funding options.”

The challenges faced by Tevva in the UK are also faced by others startups in the US, including ones that have moved here as Arrival did in 2022, in the hopes of taking advantage of the benefits under the Inflation Reduction Act.

But the US faces an even more difficult path when it comes to EV truck infrastructure growth, with most of the progress being made solely for the benefit of last-mile delivery vans rather than larger commercial vehicles.

Should governments offer incentives to companies to adopt electric trucks, or should the market sort this out by itself? Let us know what you think.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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