The European Commission today proposed the EU’s first-ever fuel economy standards for new trucks. The 2025 target of 15% will save truck owners €5,000 in reduced fuel bills every year, strengthen European truckmakers’ competitiveness and cut millions of tonnes of climate-changing emissions. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the proposal but cautions that the Commission’s plan falls short of the ambition demanded by hauliers and businesses and what’s needed to hit the EU’s own climate goals.
Trucks are not yet subject to fuel efficiency standards – even though they account for 22% of vehicle emissions while making up less than 5% of the vehicles on the road. The Commission proposes a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025 compared to 2019 levels, and an indicative 2030 target of -30% – to be reviewed in 2022. Big businesses like IKEA, Unilever, Carrefour and Nestlé, trucking companies, as well as a group of EU countries, including truck-producing nations France and the Netherlands, ask for the cost effective fuel savings to be captured, which means setting a 2025 target of 24% .
Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, Sustainability Manager, Global Transport & Logistics Services, IKEA Supply AG, said: “We believe climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing. Our ambition is to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emission from our transport and logistics supply chain. We need a diversified portfolio of solutions to tackle climate change. High and ambitious fuel efficiency standards is an important piece of the puzzle to accelerate the necessary change.”
Unilever‘s president of Europe, Hanneke Faber, said: “At Unilever we are making sure that our transport and distribution systems are as green as possible. Ambitious emissions standards for trucks are crucial to encourage innovation and accelerate the deployment of new zero emissions technologies – good for business, good for citizens and good for the planet.”
Bart Vandewaetere, Nestlé’s Head of Corporate Communications & Government Relations for Zone Europe, Middle East & North Africa, said: “We want to have as close to zero environmental impact across our operations by 2030. Improving the efficiency of our transport and distribution is an important pillar of this commitment. We therefore welcome this 3rd Mobility Package; since 2014 we have reduced CO2 within our European transport operations by 15% per tonne of product, and by having more fuel efficient trucks on the road we will be able to accelerate our reduction in CO2 emissions in the future.”
Paul Hoffman, Senior Director, Global Customer Service & Logistics of Heineken, said: “HEINEKEN is welcoming new truck CO2 standards to accelerate the transition to low carbon road transport in Europe. This will support our climate ambition and help us reduce the carbon footprint of our entire value chain from barley to bar.”
CEO of transport and logistics group Geodis, Marie-Christine Lombard, said: “Geodis takes its responsibility to contribute to the decarbonisation of transport seriously and is engaged in a number of actions aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, both within Geodis and with its partners and suppliers. We support ambitious European standards that accelerate decarbonisation through innovation and with an approach that is fair to the whole market.”
Stef Cornelis, cleaner trucks officer with T&E, said: “The proposed fuel economy standards will save truckers money at the pump, cut our dependence on imported oil and slash truck emissions. But the Commission proposal means a lot of cost-effective clean technologies won’t be fitted to new trucks, which will result in truckers and the climate missing out on big savings.”
The Commission has proposed so-called supercredits, an accounting trick that undermines the effectiveness of the standard, promoted by the truckmakers’ lobby. In its proposal electric trucks and buses sold before 2025 will be multiple counted and credits can be accumulated towards the 2025 target. This could in practice reduce the ambition of the 2025 target by around a fifth . The Commission did not propose a sales target for zero emission trucks as sought by big businesses and hauliers.
“The supercredits accounting trick will undermine truck CO2 targets, deprive businesses of higher fuel savings and reduce, not increase, the number of electric trucks sold. Parliament should get rid of supercredits and introduce a sales target for zero-emission vehicles instead”, said Stef Cornelis.
The legislative package also includes a plan to accelerate the deployment of slightly longer, more streamlined cab designs, which could hit EU roads as early as 2020. New truck designs could cut truck emissions by 3-5% whilst improving safety and driver comfort.
Transport is Europe’s biggest climate problem. European hauliers spend on average €32,000 a year per truck on fuel. While the US, Japan, China and Canada have CO2 limits in place, the fuel efficiency of trucks in Europe improved little for the past 20 years whilst all EU truckmakers engaged in a price fixing cartel.
Safer trucks with fewer blind spots
The European Commission also proposed the world’s first ever direct vision standards for new trucks . A direct vision standard will help remove deadly blind spots that make pedestrians and cyclists invisible to truck drivers. However, T&E warns that the Commission’s plan to outsource the development of the safety standards to a secretive UN body known as UNECE, which is dominated by vehicle makers, risks making the standard meaningless.
3,850 people died in road accidents involving trucks in 2014.
 A 24% cut in CO2 by 2025 (compared to 2015, or -21% compared to 2019) would save businesses €7,700 per year, per truck, in reduced fuel bills.
 The Commission proposal recognises the weakening effect of supercredits and has proposed that supercredits can only reduce the -15% target by 3% points, signalling it expects a weakening of the ambition.
18 European cities have called on the Commission to mandate direct vision for trucks as soon as possible. Today’s urban trucks have deadly blind spots. Currently there are no rules in place governing the amount of the road truck drivers must be able to see. However, research clearly shows that trucks with low-entry cabs, which many European manufacturers already make, have excellent direct vision and prevent road fatalities.
Source: Transport & Environment