EU proposes distanced-based road tolling to drive truck fuel efficiency

Time-based road tolling for trucks is to be phased out in Europe by 2024, the European Commission has proposed. T&E welcomed the switch to a distanced-based system which, by charging per kilometer, encourages drivers to take the most efficient route and discourages empty trips while reducing congestion and pollution.

Tolls will also take into account the carbon emissions of trucks, the Commission said in its Clean, competitive and connected mobility package, while zero-emission vehicles will be given a 75% toll discount. CO2 emissions will be measured in a new CO2 test for trucks, the recently adopted VECTO protocol. The package also proposes that EU countries start monitoring truck CO2 emissions under a new Monitoring, Reporting and Verification regulation.

Already 15 EU countries have tolling systems in place where trucks pay per kilometer driven; the Commission wants to expand this to more EU countries by phasing out time-based vignette systems by 2024. T&E said that any country that wants to introduce road charging for cars should have to follow these new smarter toll rules.

T&E’s executive director William Todts said: ‘We welcome the Commission’s reform of road charging. Distance-based tolls are a great instrument to reduce congestion, promote cleaner vehicles and make transport more efficient. The new rules also make charging smarter by differentiating tolls based on CO2 emissions and giving discounts to zero-emission vehicles. This will give a big boost to investments in more efficient and zero-emission trucks.’

The Commission also said it will propose CO2 standards for cars and vans by the end of 2017, and for the first time, fuel efficiency standards for trucks in early 2018. The announcement came as a new study showed fuel consumption of new trucks could be cut by 33% in a decade if manufacturers introduce proven fuel efficiency technologies. The independent research by consultants Ricardo Energy & Environment said the improvements would be cost-effective for truckowners as virtually all of the fuel savings could be achieved within a payback time of less than three years.

Europe could apply almost all of the technologies deployed in the US market under America's phase two of truck CO2 standards, the author said, delivering substantial fuel savings potential. The European market has yet to adopt many off-the-shelf solutions to improve efficiency such as aerodynamic improvements and low rolling resistance tires.

T&E’s safer and cleaner trucks officer, Stef Cornelis, said: ‘Fuel consumption technologies that could reduce truck CO2 emissions by 30% over 10 years are already available now but haven’t been deployed yet. That explains why truck fuel economy has stagnated for the last two decades. Europe needs CO2 standards for trucks now so as to boost competitiveness in innovation and accelerate the uptake of fuel efficiency technologies.’

Trucks represent less than 5% of all vehicles on the road in Europe but are responsible for around 30% of road transport CO2 emissions.