The Zero Emission Northern (ZEN) Freight consortium, one of the four winning bidders for the Zero Emission HGV and Infrastructure Demonstrator (ZEHID) programme funding has been forced to reset its plans after oil giant bp withdrew as the consortium lead.


Tom Williams, Deputy CEO Maritime Transport (left) and Angus Webb, CEO, Dynamon outlining the future plans for ZEN Freight

The news of the reset for ZEN Freight, which has secured £54.6 million DfT funding as part of the ZEHID programme, came on the second day of the conference programme at Road Transport Expo. In a special two-hour conference session focusing on the ZEHID programme, Tom Williams, Deputy CEO at Maritime Transport revealed the ZEN Freight consortium partners, of which Maritime is one, had been told about bp’s decision in April and had since been working with the other partners to re-set the project and mobilise the activity. Transport sustainability and optimisation specialists Dynamon would be assuming project leadership shortly, Williams told the conference, and he was confident the programme would get back on track.

ZEN Freight is expected to put 62 battery electric and 16 hydrogen trucks on the road as part of the project, benchmarking these vehicles against their diesel equivalents with a number of leading fleet operators. Under the terms of the funding, the vehicles all need to be on the road by the end of 2026 and be in operation for the following five years gathering data and operational learnings.

At the same conference session, delegates received a progress update from the other three ZEHID projects:

  • The Electric Freightway initiative, led by GRIDSERVE, is the largest and most advanced of the projects and already has trucks on the road - delegates were shown a video of the first Volvo battery electric vehicle deployed with AF Blakemore. The next Electric Freightway project update report is expected this summer, when the project team will share feedback on the key learnings from the vehicle procurement process.
  • eFreight 2030, led by Voltempo, has recently announced its founding partners and Voltempo CEO, Michael Boxwell, explained the project was launching an Associate Membership programme to extend the reach of the project and get more people involved.
  • While Electric Freightway and eFreight 2030 have been activie promoting their project progress, this was the first time we’d heard the details of the HyHAUL (Hydrogen Aggregated UK Logistics) project. HyHAUL focuses solely on the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and the required energy infrastructure in the M4 corridor in the South West and Wales. Head of Project Delivery at project lead Protium, David Langford, gave delegates a very comprehensive project overview and announced HyHAUL has secured Marubeni Europower, a subsidiary of the giant Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation, as its joint-venture partner and is expecting to deploy Scania and Quantron hydrogen-powered vehicles on the project. The location for the green hydrogen production and distribution sites had been identified, he said, and the vehicles were expected to be on the road in in 2026.

Road Transport Expo 2024 took place from 04-06 June in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire UK. The 2025 event will take place at the same venue from 24-26 June 2025.