Zero-emission trucks require radical policy changes

Added: 06 January 2020

The transition to carbon-neutral and zero-emission freight transport cannot happen without radical policy changes by the European Union and the governments of all member states.

That was the feeling among the CEOs of Europe’s truck makers at a recent Commercial Vehicle Board meeting of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

Earlier this year, the EU adopted its first ever CO2 standards for heavy goods vehicles, which will apply in 2025 (-15%) and 2030 (-30%). The targets oblige all manufacturers to focus on, and massively ramp up investments in, alternative powertrains. Indeed, a growing offer of low and zero-emission trucks is already available today, and many more are in the pipeline for the near future.

“When we look at the total fleet of transport operators today, it is clear that the market will need to be completely turned around in an extremely short timeframe,” Gerrit Marx, Chairman of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board and President of CNH Industrial Commercial Vehicles & Speciality, said.

New data released by ACEA shows that 98.3% of all heavy and medium trucks (above 3.5 tonnes) on Europe’s roads today run on diesel. Electric vehicles account for a negligible proportion of all trucks in circulation (0.01%, or one out of every 10,000 vehicles), while around 0.4% of all trucks in the EU run on natural gas.

“If we are to transform this startling picture and convince hauliers to make the switch to low and zero-emission vehicles on a large-scale,” Gerrit Marx said, “Europe urgently needs to introduce a strong package of consistent and predictable policy measures.”

This includes for example the rapid roll-out of dedicated charging and refuelling infrastructure for trucks and putting in place meaningful incentives to make these vehicles a commercially-viable and competitive choice for transport operators, thereby fostering fleet renewal.

The revision of the Eurovignette Directive should also allow for the differentiation of road user charges by CO2 emissions. “Member states in particular need to step up to the game in all these areas,” Gerrit Marx added. “Creating real market demand for low and zero-emission vehicles should now be the priority. Binding sales quotas for manufacturers, on the other hand, would not do anything to encourage transport companies to purchase alternatively-powered trucks. In order to create a business environment where carbon-neutral solutions are the preferred option, all stakeholders will have to work together to transform the entire value chain of transport.”

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