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Electric trucks essential to meeting Paris goals – government study

August 31, 2018

Electric trucks are urgently needed for Europe to achieve its climate goals, according to a new study commissioned by the Dutch Environment Ministry. It shows that one out of three new trucks will need to be electric or zero-emission by 2030 if the EU is to meet its Paris commitments.

T&E said that obtaining such a large market share is achievable but only if legislators set an ambitious and mandatory sales target for electric trucks in 2025 as part of the truck CO2 standards proposal. Such a target would oblige European truckmakers to really start selling electric trucks, backing up high-profile media announcements with substantial sales.

Electric trucks are compelling as they reduce emissions – not only at the tailpipe but also on a well-to-wheel basis (which takes into account the ‘upstream’ emissions of producing electricity or refining fuel). This will only improve as the electricity sector decarbonises under the EU emissions trading system.

The breakthrough has been made possible by battery prices falling faster than ever before and electric drivetrains becoming much more efficient than outdated diesel technology. Also, with 65% of the trips by trucks in Europe reaching less than 500 km, there is no need to have the same range as a long-haul diesel truck for most journeys.

Electric vehicles are also set to receive a major discount on tolled roads of at least 50% compared to the best-in-class diesel truck under a proposed new Eurovignette directive. All these factors make electric trucks – even with a high upfront cost – very competitive compared to their diesel counterparts. Increasing diesel taxes to a more sustainable level and getting rid of the far-too-generous rebates for truckers would also make the picture for electric trucks even brighter.

The Dutch government’s research came to public attention last week – just as the European Parliament’s leading member on the proposed truck CO2 standards published a report recommending more ambitious emissions reduction targets and a sales mandate for electric trucks. MEP Bas Eickhout is calling for a 20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2025, and at least -45% by 2030%

Eickhout is also proposing a mandatory sales target for zero-emission trucks of 10% in 2025 and 35% in 2030. By 2030, all new buses sold on the EU market should be zero-emission, he says.

The European Commission has proposed to mandate only a 15% cut in CO2 emission from trucks by 2025 – but even this is being attacked by truckmakers, which claim 7% would be more ‘realistic’. T&E pointed out that the manufacturers target would, in fact, mean business as usual for them and fell way short of the efficiency gains that major customers such as IKEA, Unilever, Carrefour and Nestlé are demanding.