The review of the HDV CO2 standards is the opportunity to put the European heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) sector on a trajectory in line with climate neutrality. HDVs are responsible for 28% of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU, despite only accounting for 2% of vehicles on the road. If no action is taken, these emissions will continue to grow. The upcoming proposal by the European Commission could turn the 2020s and 2030s into the key decades to clean up trucking and ensure Europe’s continued industrial leadership in the sector.
To reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reach climate neutrality by 2050, HDVs need to be entirely decarbonised. Given that trucks last on average more than 18 years on the road, this means ending the sale of all new freight trucks and buses with combustion engines by 2035, with vocational vehicles following by 2040. This would reduce overall HDV emissions by 95% by mid century, with only a small share of the remaining fleet relying on diesel.
Zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) are the only available technology which can reduce emissions quickly, decarbonise the heavy-duty vehicle sector in the long-term and eliminate harmful air pollution.
The European Commission needs to ensure that these voluntary commitments materialise by including the following key elements in its upcoming legislative proposal:
- A CO2 reduction target of -100% should be set for all medium and heavy lorries by 2035, except for vocational vehicles which should be regulated by a ZEV target (see below).
- The current CO2 target for 2030 of -30% should be brought forward to 2027 for medium and heavy lorries and should increase to -65% by 2030.
- The CO2 standards are currently only regulating heavy lorries which are responsible for just 64% of all emissions from HDVs. The regulation needs to be extended and also cover small and medium lorries, vocational trucks, urban buses and coaches as well as trailers.
- Vehicle groups which are (partly) not certified under the Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool (VECTO) should be regulated by a ZEV sales target and reach 100% in 2027 for urban buses, 2035 for small lorries (3.5 to 7.4 tonnes) and coaches as well as 2040 in the case of vocational vehicles.
- Credits for renewable and low-carbon fuels should not be included in the HDV CO2 standards as it would not help solve the emissions problem of HDVs. It would mix different types of regulations and undermine their effectiveness. E-fuels would represent the most costly compliance option and will only be available in limited quantities which are needed for hard-to-abate sectors where electrification is not an option.
Download our position paper to find out the further legislative recommendations.