“The trucks are responsible for a significant portion of the pollution emissions in transportation,” states Carlos Rico, Policy Officer at Transport & Environment (T&E), to Mobility Portal Europe.
It is the only sector in the EU where emissions have continued to rise in recent years, with heavy-duty vehicles accounting for over 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in road transport.
In response to this, negotiators from the Council and the European Parliament recently reached a provisional political agreement on CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HDV).
The goal is to further reduce emissions in the road transport sector and introduce new targets for 2030 (45 percent), 2035 (65 percent), and 2040 (90 percent).
These targets will apply to heavy trucks weighing over 7.5 tonnes and coaches.
In this context, Rico argues: “The requirement for a 90% reduction in emissions by 2040 represents the end of diesel trucks, and this is very positive.”
In addition to these goals, there is also a 15 percent reduction target for 2025 already outlined in the current regulation.
The amendment also introduces a 100 percent zero-emission target for urban buses by 2035, while setting a provisional target of 90 percent for this category by 2030.
Co-legislators agreed to exempt intercity buses from this and place them within the overall targets for coaches.
T&E asserts that they had hoped for more, such as setting a date from which only zero-emission trucks would be sold, similar to cars and vans.
However, they emphasize that they have come very close.
The new standards will contribute to achieving the European Union’s climate ambitions for 2030 and reaching climate neutrality by 2050.
The ONG estimates that the EU’s targets will result in around 30 percent of trucks sold in 2030 and at least three-quarters in 2040 being zero-emission vehicles.
For now, the provisional agreement will be presented to representatives of the Member States in the Council (Coreper) and to the Parliament’s Environment Committee for approval.
If approved, the text must be formally adopted by both institutions, following a review by legal linguists, before it can be published in the Official Journal of the EU and come into effect.
Meanwhile, the Commission will review the effectiveness and impact of the amended Regulation on the aforementioned targets in 2027.
“Electric trucks are a reality”
According to figures recently published by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), sales of heavy-duty vehicles increased in the EU in 2023.
Registrations of new electric trucks experienced an impressive growth of 234.1 percent, reaching 5,279 units.
The Netherlands leads the group with an increase of 889.7 percent, followed by Germany with a growth of 169.8 percent.
These two countries together contribute to over 60 percent of all eTruck sales in the EU.
Electric trucks now represent 1.5 percent of the market, a significant advance from the previous year’s 0.8 percent.
Hybrid-electric bus registrations also showed positive figures, with a growth of 115.1 percent, nearly doubling the market share from 7.1 percent to 12.8 percent compared to 2022.
This growth is observed in France, with a 221.3 percent increase, and Germany, with a 37.5 percent.
Scania, part of the Volkswagen Group, and Mercedes-Benz are among the brands marketing the most sustainable heavy-duty vehicles in the continent.
“Electric heavy-duty vehicles are gaining momentum, and once the law comes into effect, we will see even more acceleration,” emphasizes Carlos Rico.
This will contribute positively to the environment and improve overall air quality.
To continue driving the transition to eHeavy vehicles, it is indispensable for member states to prepare their routes to meet the objectives set out in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR).