‘Trucks can be 40% more fuel efficient by 2030 with CO2 limits’

Trucks can cut carbon emissions by up to 40% if the EU sets CO2 standards now, according to a new analysis by leading research group the ICCT. The preliminary figures show that European heavy-duty vehicles could slash their emissions 27% by 2025 and up to 40% better by 2030, thereby saving hauliers on fuel bills.

Truck fuel economy and emissions can be improved by increasing engine efficiency, improving tires and aerodynamics as well as hybridisation. But the fuel efficiency of trucks in Europe has hardly changed in two decades and, unless action is taken, heavy-duty vehicles will account for more than two-fifths of Europe’s road transport emissions in 2030. The EU has no CO2 limits for heavy-duty vehicles – unlike the US, China and Japan.

The ICCT’s truck efficiency manager, Rachel Muncrief, said: ‘Thanks to the new US fuel economy standards, American tractor trailers will overtake European tractor trailers as the most fuel efficient in the world in 2020. The EU should introduce truck CO2 standards and it should hurry up. Setting a 2020 standard would deliver three times higher carbon savings to the EU’s 2030 goals than a 2025 standard.’

The findings come as the ICCT also said that the early introduction of standards for trucks and stringent new targets for cars and vans would alone result in CO2 savings of 17.4% on 2005 levels by 2030. [LINK to cars article]. T&E said these measures offer Europe’s best hope of cutting its carbon emissions in line with its climate commitments as well as delivering economic benefits.

T&E freight director William Todts said: ‘There are not many other measures that deliver such big carbon savings and actually improve truckers’ total cost of ownership. That’s why member states, MEPs and business have all called on the EU to introduce truck fuel economy standards to help them meet the 2030 climate targets. The ball is now in the Commission’s camp.’

The baseline 'red herring'

At last week’s Road to Efficiency conference, hosted by T&E, the Commission said it was analysing how it could move forward on truck CO2 legislation, citing the lack of a regulatory baseline as a potential obstacle to quick action.

But Margo Oge (pictured), a former director of transportation and air quality at the US Environment Protection Agency, described the baseline issue as a ‘red herring’ or a non-issue. ‘It took us less than a year to set the baseline and we did that as we were developing the proposed standards in 2010,’ she said. ‘The most complex parts of the regulation is the test procedure, and EU will have that finalised later this year, so they basically already did the hardest work.’

The Commission is expected to outline its plans to reduce truck emissions in its decarbonisation of transport communication which is scheduled for publication on 20 July.

Business joins the fight

The EU is coming under increasing pressure from business to regulate CO2 from trucks, which make up less than 5% of all vehicles on the road but are responsible for 25% of carbon emissions. Last month 19 global brands, logistics companies and green organisations, including IKEA, Nestlé, Philips, DB Schenker and Deutsche Post DHL, told the Commission that simply monitoring CO2 emissions would not kick start the market for ultra-fuel efficient trucks.

The 19 groups wrote that post-2020 CO2 standards for new trucks and trailers would save consumers and businesses money at the pump, lessen the economic and security threats presented by oil dependence, and help truckmakers develop new technologies to make the transition to a low-carbon economy.