‘Radical’ increase in zero-emission trucks needed to meet CO2 targets, industry warns

A prototype hydrogen-powered truck of Mercedes-Benz GenH2 on display during the Daimler press presentation in Berlin, Germany, 15 September 2020. [EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER]

The number of zero-emission trucks on European roads will need to increase from around 2,300 at present to 200,000 by 2030 if the EU’s CO2 targets are to be met, truck makers warn.

This would mean the level of zero-emissions trucks growing 100-fold within 10 years, a shift  labeled as “radical and unprecedented” by Eric-Mark Huitema, the director general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

The European Commission’s strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, unveiled in December, set an objective of having 80,000 zero-emission trucks on the road by 2030 – a figure far below the 200,000 cited by ACEA.

By 2050, nearly all cars, vans and heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission, according to the strategy.

But ACEA believes the Commission’s target for 2030 is insufficient to put the EU on track to achieve this goal. Moreover, it would also fall short of the 30% drop in emissions required by 2030 under an EU regulation setting performance standards on heavy-duty vehicles.

EU climate laws completed as truck rules get green light

European Union negotiators hauled the first ever set of rules for heavy vehicle CO2 emissions across the line early on Tuesday morning (19 February), rounding off the current generation of climate laws.

Transport & Environment (T&E), an NGO advocating for greener transport, was similarly critical of the EU executive’s target for zero-emission trucks.

“The strategy’s target of 80,000 zero-emission trucks by 2030 is far, far behind where the market is heading and not in line with the objective of climate neutrality by 2050,” said Tiziana Frongia, freight director at T&E.

“Zero-emission trucks models are coming to market and their supply should be stepped up quickly to ensure at least one in every three trucks sold in 2030 is emissions free,” Frongia added.

Whilst affirming European truck manufacturer’s commitment to zero-emission trucks, Huitema stressed that support is needed from the European Union and its member states to make such an increase feasible. This includes rolling out an EU-wide network of charging and refuelling infrastructure suitable for trucks, establishing CO2-based road charges, and taxing fuels based on carbon and energy content.

The EU executive has already set a target of building 1,000 hydrogen stations and one million public recharging points by 2025 across the EU.

Poland currently has the EU’s largest truck fleet, with almost 1.2 million trucks. The average age of medium and heavy commercial vehicles operating in the EU is 13 years.

A recent study by ACEA estimates that there are currently 6.2 million medium and heavy commercial vehicles on the EU’s roads, almost all of which are powered by diesel. Only 0.04% of these trucks are currently considered zero-emission.

Truck makers tone down criticism of Europe’s CO2 regulation

Under pressure from regulators, truck makers have softened their criticism of Europe’s first-ever regulation on CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, focusing their comments on the lack of recharging infrastructure in cities and motorways.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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