Europe forges deal on heavy vehicle CO2 emissions

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Wednesday 31 January 2024

Negotiators for the European Parliament and Council of the European Union, which comprises ministers from EU member states, have reached a provision­al political agreement on the way forward for the re­duction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new trucks, buses and trailers.

The agreed package, which was announced in January, aims to encourage uptake of zero-emission vehicles across Europe in order to help meet EU cli­mate ambitions.

The targets for CO2 reductions have been set at 45 per cent from 2030, 65 per cent from 2035 and 90 per cent from 2040, compared to 2019 levels. They will apply to heavy trucks over 7.5 tonnes, as well as coaches. A 100 per cent zero-emission target for ur­ban buses by 2035 has also been included.

In addition, reduction targets of 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent have been set for trailers and semi-trailers respectively, while an official definition of ‘e-trailers’, which can contribute to the propulsion of a vehicle combination by recuperating energy, will also be adopted given their potential to contribute to CO2 emission reduction.

Exemptions from CO2 targets will apply to small-vol­ume manufacturers’ vehicles, those for use by the armed forces and fire services; those for use in civil protection, medical care and public order; and vehi­cles used for mining, forestry and agriculture.

The agreement would also extend regulatory scope to vocational vehicles such as refuse trucks or concrete mixers from 2035, and the European Com­mission will analyse the possibility of bringing smaller lorries (under 5t) into scope.

Should the proposal be approved by relevant bod­ies, it will then need to be formally adopted by the relevant institutions before entering into force. The regulation would be subject to review in 2027.

In response, the European manufacturers’ association ACEA said that while truck and bus mak­ers “fully support an ambitious decarbonisation agenda… the agreed implementation timeline remains extremely challenging in the absence of vital enabling con­ditions.”

“Electric charging and hy­drogen refilling infrastructure, comprehensive carbon pricing schemes, and meaningful sup­port measures for transport op­erators to invest quickly: these are the key ingredients for rapid­ly decarbonising the heavy-duty transport sector, in addition to ze­ro-emission vehicles,” said Sigrid de Vries, ACEA director general.

“We cannot continue boldly setting ambitious targets for ve­hicle manufacturers and expect swift and smooth implementation to follow. Without an enabling framework to shore up demand for the zero-emission models, achieving targets will be impossi­ble, especially with the envisaged timeline.”

To meet the 2030 targets, over 400,000 battery-electric and hy­drogen-powered vehicles would need to be on the road, said ACEA, and at least a third of all new reg­istrations zero-emission.

In addition, it said, at least 50,000 suitable charging stations would need to be deployed, most­ly megawatt charging systems, as well as 700 hydrogen refilling stations.

“We are playing our part by in­vesting and ramping up series pro­duction of zero-emission trucks and buses, but we rely on our cus­tomers’ ability to invest and oper­ate new vehicles to replace older vehicles currently on Europe’s roads,” de Vries added.

However, ACEA said the Euro­pean vehicle industry was “en­couraged” by the decision to opt for the 2027 review date, earlier than originally proposed by the Commission.

“Moving forward, the Europe­an auto industry will continue to closely monitor the uptake of cru­cial enabling conditions to ensure targets are met,” said ACEA.

“The European Commission and member states must equally commit to monitoring progress to ensure expected shortcomings are addressed early to jointly deliv­er on the shared decarbonisation goal.”