European truck makers question whether infrastructure will be in place to fuel or charge the...

European truck makers question whether infrastructure will be in place to fuel or charge the alternatively powered trucks that may need to be built to meet the CO2 limits.

Photo: European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA)

Member states of the European Union and the EU Parliament reached a tentative deal on February 19 to establish tight carbon-dioxide emission limits for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The two-tiered compromise agreement still needs to be endorsed by member states and the European Parliament, but those actions are regarded as formalities.

The rules will require that between 2025 and 2029 new trucks must emit on average 15% less CO2, compared to 2019 truck emission levels. Then starting in 2030, they will be required to emit on average 30% less CO2 than in 2019.

“Those targets are binding, and truck manufacturers which do not comply will have to pay a financial penalty in the form of an excess emissions premium,” the EU stated in a press release. On the other hand, making the new rule something of a carrot-and-stick deal, the EU also said it was “strengthening” incentives for OEMs to build low- and zero-emission trucks.

In addition, the EU has established “specific measures” to ensure “robust and reliable data” on emissions, which will be obtained through onboard devices that “monitor the actual fuel and energy consumption of heavy-duty vehicles.”

In December, the EU placed such CO2 standards on cars and light vans. The truck limits are another step in the 28-nation bloc’s stated plan to fight global warming by slashing greenhouse gas emissions to a “net zero” level by 2050.  

An EU statement described the deal as “a further stepping stone for modernizing he European mobility sector and preparing it for climate neutrality in the second half of the century.”

“With the first-ever EU emission standards for trucks agreed, we are completing the legal framework to reach the European target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030,” commented EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete. “The new targets and incentives will help tackle emissions, as well as bring fuel savings to transport operators and cleaner air for all Europeans. For the EU industry, this is an opportunity to embrace innovation towards zero-emission mobility and further strengthen its global leadership in clean vehicles.”

No sooner than the rules were announced, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) declared that it was “most particularly concerned about the highly ambitious CO2 reduction targets” set for trucks. “These targets are highly demanding, especially as their implementation does not depend solely on the commercial vehicle industry, and the baseline for the targets is still unknown.” The truck OEM members of ACEA are DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, and Volvo Group.

ACEA’s main concern is a lack of infrastructure to fuel or charge the alternatively powered trucks that may need to be built to meet the CO2 limits. To that point, the association stated that "data shows that currently there is no public charging or refueling infrastructure suitable for electric or hydrogen trucks whatsoever. Even in the case of truck-specific filling stations for natural gas (CNG and LNG), availability remains very low and patchy across Europe.”

In addition, ACEA argues that the need for the 28 EU member states “to implement an EU-wide infrastructure action plan is all the more urgent in light of the mandatory sales quotas for zero-emission trucks that the EU institutions have agreed to introduce from 2025 onwards.”

“We can now only call upon [EU] member states to urgently step up their efforts to roll out the infrastructure required for charging and refuelling the alternatively powered trucks which will need to be sold en masse if these targets are to be met,” said ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert in a statement.

Jonnaert added that truck operators cannot be expected to ““suddenly start buying electric or other alternatively powered trucks if there is no business case for them and it is not possible to easily charge the vehicles along all major EU motorways. Policy makers must act to ensure that the zero-emission trucks that manufacturers will be mandated to produce can actually be bought and operated by our customers.”

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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