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What does the future of road transport look like?

Evolution of Gregory trucksThe road transport industry has come a long way. If you just look at our vehicles, in just over 100 years we’ve gone from a Ford Model T Ton truck with 22.5bhp, to a Scania S450 with 450bhp! The two trucks are unrecognisable from one another. In these 100 years we have seen huge technological advances and constantly evolving legislation to keep us all protected. But we are on the brink of an even bigger evolution – one in which we see our carbon intensive fleets convert into net-zero fleets.

To explore how far the transport industry has come, and to look to the future, we interviewed Paul Willis, who is our Head of Operational Compliance and has worked here for 24 years and Anthony Humble-Smith, who is our Group Sustainability Lead and has worked here for 2 years. Here are their observations of their past, and their predictions for the future.

First up, please can you tell us a bit about your job roles?

Paul Willis: As Head of Operational Compliance, I support the business in maintaining and improving compliance.

Anthony Humble-Smith: I am the Group Sustainability Lead. I am tasked with decarbonising our fleet by collaborating with our customers and experts in the sustainability field.

Paul Willis
Paul Willis, Head of Operational Compliance

Looking back on the transport industry, how far have we come?

Paul Willis: Since I started at Gregory Group 24 years ago, the sector looks completely different. Technology has revolutionised our industry; from the trucks themselves to the way we administer what we do. The only thing that hasn’t changed in our business, is the partnership element – the desire to deliver an excellent service is the same today as it was then.

Anthony Humble-Smith: Just in the two years I’ve been here I have seen a radical increase in the focus our customers are putting on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG). Our customers are now coming to expect a fully green freight solution that works for themselves, their consumers, and the planet.

What are the noteworthy advancements Gregory Group has achieved in recent times?

Anthony Humble Smith
Anthony Humble Smith, Group Sustainability Lead

Paul Willis: I have seen major improvements in the safety of both workplaces and depots thanks to the technology now available to us. The transport sector is constantly changing and with the advancements in alternative fuels we are on the brink of a very exciting future.

Anthony Humble-Smith: Gregory Group is leading the way on the sustainability agenda. By moving quickly and exploring revolutionary technology, we have been able to set ambitious decarbonisation targets with the SBTi. This has included the rollout of alternative fuel vehicles including Bio-LNG, Bio-CNG, battery electric, and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil. At the core of our sustainability offering, is the desire to maintain integrity. If we are going to do this, we want to do it properly which is why our procurement of renewable fuels is certified under the Renewable Fuels Assurance Scheme (RFAS). This demonstrates our commitment to sourcing high quality, ethical renewable fuel that will make the greatest difference to our planet.

What do you envisage the future of the transport sector looking like?

Paul Willis: Goods are always going to need to be delivered. In the short term this will be achieved by vehicles driven on sustainable fuels. We still need to evolve these fuels, for example, finding ways to produce green hydrogen in sufficient quantities, but sustainable fuels are already a very real and valuable addition to our fleet. Looking further into the future, we will be embracing autonomous modes of transport. And given the pace our technology is evolving; this really won’t be far away.

Anthony Humble-Smith: I believe for the majority of road transport; battery electric will be at the forefront. However, other fuels like hydrogen have a role to play. As the rapidly evolving truck technology has outpaced infrastructure, it’s when we can confidently and quickly recharge or refuel our HGVs, that we will see the greatest evolution of our industry.

What is the one thing everyone in the transport sector could do to make a difference?

Paul Willis: Global warming now affects everyone. The most important thing to do is to embrace change. We cannot sit and wait. We must all push for a greener way to deliver our goods.

Anthony Humble-Smith: There is no denying that as an industry, we have a long and complicated road to navigate our way to net-zero. But we can’t put it off. Our customers, consumers, and our planet, are all demanding change. We have to listen.

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