Scania has pledged to go beyond the EU’s new 90% carbon-reduction target for 2040.  -  Photo: Scania

Scania has pledged to go beyond the EU’s new 90% carbon-reduction target for 2040.

Photo: Scania

The European Union may give heavy vehicles a little more time to meet strict carbon-dioxide emissions goals than the deadline for cars.

Trucks in the EU will be required to cut emissions to near zero by 2040 under new pollution targets announced Feb. 14 by the European Commission. The proposal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Heavy vehicles will be required to cut emissions by 45% by 2030, 65% by 2035, and 90% by 2040. This is more lenient than an EU-wide ban on internal combustion engines for new cars that starts in 2035.

Previously, the EU’s emission rules only covered heavy trucks. The commission proposes to expand the scope to include small and large trucks, city buses, long-distance buses, and trailers.

“Trailers as such do not have emissions obviously, but by setting stricter requirements for their energy efficiency (aerodynamics mainly), they will help reduce CO2 emissions from the main truck and enable longer distances when driving battery-powered engines or hydrogen powered fuel cells,” explained commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

“We will eventually have to move to a 100% target, but at this stage we cannot yet say when all uses of trucks and buses can be made zero-emissions with the technologies currently available.”

'Ready to Deliver' — But What About Charging/Fueling Infrastructure?

While environmental groups criticized the government for not making heavy vehicles meet the same standards as light-duty cars and vans, European truck makers expressed concern.

We are ready to deliver,” stated Martin Lundstedt, ACEA’s commercial vehicle board chairman and CEO of Volvo Group. (ACEA is the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.) “However, reaching -45% already by 2030 is highly ambitious. It would require equally ambitious action by policymakers to ensure that the other players in the transport and logistics value chain deliver at the same time.”

A CO2 reduction of 45% by 2030 means that more than 400,000 zero-emission trucks would have to be on the road, and at least 100,000 new zero-emissions trucks registered annually, according to ACEA. This would require over 50,000 publicly-accessible chargers suitable for trucks to be in operation within just seven years, of which some 35,000 should be high-performance chargers (megawatt charging system). It would additionally require some 700 hydrogen refilling stations.

“Given that charging stations that are suited to the specific needs of trucks are almost completely missing today, the challenge ahead is enormous,” said ACEA Director General Sigrid de Vries.

ACEA also said it is alarmed by the lack of coordination between the new CO2 proposals and the Euro 7 proposal for heavy-duty vehicles published just a few months ago, which seeks to address tailpipe emissions from vehicles with internal combustion engines.

If accepted, the EU targets would be a world-leading standard for heavy-duty vehicles, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

ICCT also noted that Scania and Daimler Truck have both pledged to go beyond the 90% target, and to only sell zero-emission vehicles by 2040. Combined, the two manufactures account for about one third of all truck and bus sales.

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