Enabling conditions

The EU has agreed to build a comprehensive charging and refuelling network for zero-emission trucks all across Europe. With the infrastructure roll-out in motion, it is now time to put zero-emission trucks on the road.

Every 60 kmEurope's main road network will be required to have charging pools for trucks every 60 km by 2030, under the EU's charging law.

<500 kmMost trucks in Europe drive less than 500 km a day and return to their depot overnight.

10-40%of truck charging is expected to take place at public locations, with the rest happening in depots

The EU’s highway charging law

With the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) the EU has put forward the world’s most ambitious law for electric truck charging infrastructure. By 2030 at the latest, the EU’s main road network will be equipped with charging pools every 60 km, enabling electric trucks to operate between Talin and Lisbon just as their diesel predecessors do today. AFIR also guarantees a seamless network of hydrogen refuelling stations by 2030.

Europe will have enough public charging infrastructure available to significantly ramp up the supply of electric trucks. The AFIR provides enough charging energy and hydrogen capacity for 9% of the truck and coach fleet to be zero-emission by 2030, almost twice as many vehicles compared to what truckmakers need to achieve as a minimum under the HDV CO2 standards.

Public vs private charging

Most trucks in Europe drive less than 500 km a day and return to their depot overnight. For those trucks, private charging offers a number of distinct advantages. It will likely remain the cheapest option. Fleet operators can tailor their number of charging points to their number of trucks, ensuring optimal utilisation of each charging point. Private charging also typically occurs at slower charging speeds of 50-100 kW, which places less strain on the grid and thus requires a smaller sized grid connection. Most stakeholders therefore assume that charging will predominantly happen at private locations.

It is mostly the long-haul trucks, which operate for multiple days or weeks without returning to their depot, that will need public charging. While there is no clear consensus among stakeholders on the exact share, charging at public locations is expected to range between 10-40%. Truck drivers have to stop for 45 minutes every 4.5 hours because of the EU’s driving and rest time regulation. After a maximum daily driving period of 9 hours, an 11 hours rest period is required. These breaks and rest periods provide the ideal opportunity to charge the trucks along the highway, either fast during the day (opportunity charging) or longer overnight. For public Charge Point Operators (CPOs), utilisation needs to be at a certain level to make money.

What about the electricity grid?

Truck charging infrastructure, especially large public charging hubs where fast charging is needed, requires large grid connections and thus net capacity. Yet, this is both technically and economically feasible. However, as it requires significant lead time it is key that all stakeholders become active today.

Vehicle weight

The review of the Weights and Dimensions Directive, which sets weight limits for HDVs in cross-border commercial transport, is key to accelerating the uptake of zero-emission trucks. Under existing rules, e-trucks in the long-haul segment are disadvantaged compared to diesel ones, which do not need to accommodate batteries. Therefore, diesel trucks can simply carry more goods. The Commission has proposed an extra weight of 4 tonnes for zero-emission trucks.

However, the proposal also enables fossil-fueled trucks to enhance their payload capacity. This, combined with an incentive to use combustion gigaliners, steers investments in the wrong direction and risks leading to a reverse modal shift. Co-legislators should support the uptake of zero-emission trucks, while refraining from further incentivising diesel trucks.