Truck CO2 standards 

The European Regulation on CO2 standards for new heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) obliges European truck manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of conventional diesel trucks and increase the number of zero-emission trucks in Europe.

The first-ever European CO2 standards for new trucks

In 2019, the EU adopted the first-ever CO2 standards for new HDVs. The Regulation sets average fleet reduction targets of 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 relative to a 2019/2020 baseline. The currently regulated truck categories are responsible for 65% – 70% of total CO2 emissions from HDVs in Europe.

This will reduce the CO2 emissions from new trucks and enable transport operators to save on fuel costs. A manufacturer’s target can be lowered by a maximum of 3 percentage points through the so-called zero- and low-emission incentive mechanism. Truckmakers which sell more than 2% zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEVs) will benefit from this bonus. However, failing to meet the benchmark will not lead to any penalties.

International competition

In June 2020 California adopted the first ever truck CO2 sales target. The legislation will also be adopted by 15 other US states and the District of Columbia, thereby covering one third of the total US truck market. Four European truck manufacturers which account for around 75% of trucks sales in the EU – Daimler Trucks, Traton, Volvo and DAF – will be mandated to deploy an increasing share of zero-emission trucks on the other side of the Atlantic

2022 review

What European truck makers can do in the US, they should also do in Europe. There is ample evidence that the demand for zero-emission trucks is growing quickly, but that manufacturers are failing to supply the needed production volume to the market fast enough. The lack of investment certainty for zero-emission trucks is still one of the key barriers holding back production and, consequently, the much needed transition.

The industry is already moving into the right direction: Daimler Trucks, the world’s biggest truck manufacturer, has announced an end to the development of internal combustion engines for trucks and that zero-emission vehicles will account for up to 60% of their total sales in 2030. Scania has announced that 50% of their truck sales in 2030 will be battery electric, while MAN aims for 60% of urban and regional delivery and 40% of long-haul truck sales to be zero-emission by the same date. Volvo targets 50% zero-emission truck sales by 2030, whereas its subsidiary Renault Trucks intends to reach 35% until then.

The 2022 review of the CO2 standards needs to significantly increase the regulatory ambition. The current reduction target for 2030 of 30% is insufficient and needs to be considerably increased. The regulatory scope should be extended to the currently unregulated vehicle categories including lighter trucks, trailers, buses and coaches. The ZLEV incentive mechanism should be strengthened to increase the deployment of ZEVs. The EU should also phase out the sales of the vast majority of internal combustion engine trucks by 2035.