Truck industry fuel economy claims fanciful – ICCT

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has backed up T&E’s claims that the makers of trucks are ‘cherry picking’ vehicle test data so they can claim progress on fuel consumption and thus delay and avoid CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). The ICCT says truckmakers have been selecting vehicles for comparisons that lead to favourable conclusions.

Although the EU has had CO2 limits for the average new car since the start of 2015, it has not had equivalent standards for trucks. T&E has been calling for such standards for many years, and in March, the climate action and energy commissioner Arias Cañete said the European Commission would present draft emission standards for HDVs in 2018. But the makers of HDVs are still arguing that the progress they are making in reducing fuel consumption from heavy-duty vehicles makes mandatory standards unnecessary, and the industry has produced information to make its case.

Some of that information was examined by the ICCT. It looked at a test commissioned by Mercedes which claimed to show a 22% improvement in truck emissions between 1996 and 2016. It found that the conclusion was based on comparing a single Euro II lorry from 1996 with a single Euro VI lorry from 2016. Not only is this a very unreliable way of working out the average across a fleet, but the 1996 vehicle was one of the most powerful vehicles of its time, whereas the 2016 vehicle was from the top end of the market and had optional efficiency technology such as Daimler’s most aerodynamic cab design. The ICCT observed: ‘The dice were loaded.’

The controversy comes as the Commission is preparing its 2018 fuel efficiency standards proposal. T&E’s executive director William Todts warned about the misleading use of comparison information after visiting the IAA 2016 truck fair in Hannover last October. He said the industry was cherry picking the vehicles that would make its case, rather than looking at reliable fleet averages.

Todts says now: ‘In America, European truckmakers supported US regulators to develop truck fuel efficiency standards that were welcome by business and NGOs alike. In Europe, truckmakers refuse to cooperate with the Commission and instead spend time and money retesting 20 year old trucks. Frankly, from an industry that has just received the biggest cartel fine in EU history, you would expect a more constructive approach.”