A report commissioned by the International Council on Clean Transportation has found battery-electric and fuel cell electric trucks could be feasible in Europe by 2030.

The report was produced by CE Delft in the Netherlands and the German Aerospace Centre and surveyed leading-edge zero-emissions technologies for both short- and long-haul on-road freight carriers.

On their current path, CO2 emissions from truck transport in the EU will rise nearly 25% by 2050, due to increased transport volumes, but that trend must be reversed if the European Union is to achieve its goal of reducing total CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050, relative to 1990 levels.

The report concludes that different zero-emissions technologies will succeed in different settings.

Battery-electric trucks suit short-distance transport, such as goods distribution in cities and regions where range requirements are lower and vehicles can recharge during scheduled downtime. Fuel cell trucks have a longer range and their refuelling times that are comparable to conventional vehicles, making them a better alternative for long-haul applications.

Increasing the share of ton-kilometres transported by these alternative vehicles to half of the total overall would reverse that trend and cut 2050 GHG emissions by 8%, according to the study.

And increasing alternative vehicles’ share still further, to 90%, could result in an emissions reduction of 90%. The total cost of ownership—purchase price plus operating costs — for zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles at present falls somewhere between 140% and 200% of conventional diesel vehicles, for short-haul trucks. But the report shows that ratio falling rapidly to between 110% and 140% in 2020 as fuel savings offset other costs, and achieving rough parity by 2030.