European trucks emit 40% more than they should

On the 20th of July 2016 the European Commission announced it wants to regulate truck fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

A day earlier the Commission had fined European truck-makers a record €2.93 billion cartel fine for having operated a price-fixing cartel for 14 years; a fine that has now increased to €3.8 billion as more manufacturers have been implicated.

The Commission is now set to release a proposal outlining plans for the first truck CO2 standards in May 2018.

This website is your door to this topic. Truck fuel economy: why we need a European regulation to make our trucks cleaner and what it could achieve.

The climate impact of trucks

In 2015, at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), 195 countries adopted the first legally binding global climate deal with the long-term aim of limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. The signatories also agreed that global emissions need to peak as soon as possible, and quickly decline thereafter.

Following on from the Paris Agreement, EU leaders agreed to cut GHG emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. This reduction translates into cuts of 43% in EU emissions trading system (ETS) sectors, and  30% in non-ETS sectors which include agriculture, building and transport.

Transport responsible for 25% of Europe’s GHGs

Transport is currently Europe’s biggest climate problem. Indeed, transport is the biggest non-ETS sector contributing 35% of total emission share and this share is expected to increase.

Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDVs), including trucks, buses and coaches, represent 5% of all European vehicles and yet are responsible for 26% of road transport emissions. CO2 emissions from trucks are currently around 19% above 1990 levels and on the rise. Without policy action, their emissions are predicted to increase by a further 10% between 2010 and 2030, and by 45% by 2050.

Already, the truck industry has made big efforts to make their trucks cleaner. The introduction of EURO Standards (starting with EURO I in 1992) regulating NOx and PM means trucks now pump out less toxic air pollution. Regulation has been a success for air quality; now that same approach is needed for climate emissions.

Put simply, standards that reduce fuel use and CO2 emissions must come next.

Tractors could be 24% more fuel efficient by 2025

Research by ICCT shows that the maximum cost-effective fuel saving potential for a tractor-trailer is 27% by 2025, increasing to around 43% by 2030. If we consider the tractor only, however, potential reductions in fuel consumption are shown to be 24% by 2025, and 35% by 2030.

Most of the technologies needed to achieve these reductions are already commercially available. However, they usually have to be purchased by fleet managers, hauliers and small truck entrepreneurs at a high premium.

What’s more, these efficiency improvements could save hauliers up to €167,550 per tractor‑trailer over the lifetime of the vehicle.  And the payback period for these technologies is estimated to be only 1 – 1.9 years.

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Zero emission trucks for climate targets

We are on the verge of a major breakthrough in both battery electric trucks (BET) and alternative electrification models (such as e-Siemen’s catenary concept). When it comes to battery electric trucks, manufacturers have already moved beyond the testing stage with some starting series production within the year, while others plan to follow in 2019, and 2021.

This is important because even with a very ambitious comprehensive reform package including 40% fuel efficiency improvements for all medium and heavy duty trucks, and including trailer standards, the transport sector will not deliver its fair share of the 30% emission reductions required from each of the transport, buildings and agricultural sectors.

In order to close this gap, 5-10% of new truck sales need to be zero emission by 2025 and 20-30% by 2030.

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Proposal for truck CO2 standards

On May 31, 2017, the European Commission announced that a proposal for CO2 standards for HDVs in the EU will be delivered in May 2018. The proposal seeks to regulate trucks that fall within the VECTO categories 4, 5, 9 and 10.

This regulation will not cover all types of trucks, nor will it cover trailers.

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Vehicle Category 4

4×2 rigid truck

6% HDV CO2 emissions

Vehicle Category 9

6×2 rigid truck

8% HDV CO2 emissions

Vehicle Category 5

4×2 truck tractor unit

48% HDV CO2 emissions

Vehicle Category 10

6×2 truck tractor unit

18% HDV CO2 emissions

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What The World Is Doing

  • European Commission flags Berlaymont VECTO test

What Europe is doing

The Truck Cartel

What the US can teach Europe

Zero emission trucks