Big changes for trucks on the roads in South Africa in 2024

 ·14 Jan 2024

2024 is expected to usher in a new era for the trucking industry in South Africa, with many expected to change from internal combustion engines fuelled by diesel to electric and gas-powered engines.

While South Africa is trailing some other markets when it comes to the rollout of electric commercial vehicles – China, for instance, saw an impressive 36,000 electric trucks being sold in 2022 – the country is certainly not stuck in the last century.

On the contrary, some electric trucks are already being sold locally. Volvo recently launched its FH Electric truck, which has been named the 2024 International Truck of the Year.

The company has also introduced its complete electric range to the South African market in June of this year. This move is expected to lead to more of these trucks being seen on South African roads.

“Due to their generally limited range of approximately 200km, electric trucks will primarily be utilised for urban routes, in-city deliveries, and local to regional deliveries,” said Ryan Gaines, CEO of City Logistics, a leading privately-owned logistics company in South Africa.

He added although long-distance deliveries using electric trucks are not expected in South Africa next year, this is a future possibility. Mercedes-Benz Trucks recently launched the new eActros 600 overseas, and it’s capable of an impressive 500km without recharging.

Alternative energy sources

The electric trucks on South Africa’s roads will be joined by vehicles powered by gas – specifically compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquified natural gas (LNG) – and fuel cell trucks.

A fuel cell truck is an electric truck that generates electricity from fuel cells that are powered by hydrogen stored in tanks in the truck.

In a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined through an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity, heat and water.

More and more of these models are being brought to South Africa for testing – and South Africans will see medium, heavy and extra-heavy trucks like this on the country’s roads.

South Africa is, however, still a Euro 2 market (Euro 2 is an emission standard with petrol CO2 limits of 2.2g/km and diesel .0 g/km respectively. Europe is on Euro 6).

“But some local companies don’t want to simply meet the bare minimum when it comes to emissions. The alternative fuel vehicles will appeal to companies that are aligned to a long-term sustainability journey until regulations are implemented to create a minimum standard for the logistics industry,” said Gaines.

More good news is that there will be safer trucks on South African roads in 2024 – and into the future too.

Global truck manufacturers are constantly striving to introduce innovative safety features – whereas, in the past, many were optional extras – and features such as lane guidance and collision avoidance are fast becoming standard features in the newer models released.

Read: Big hopes for South Africa’s car industry

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