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EU agrees on CO2 emission targets for heavy-duty trucks

19 February 2019

Negotiators from the European Parliament, Commission, and Council agreed on the final CO2 emission targets for heavy-duty trucks—the first ever EU regulation to control CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. The fleet average CO2 emission reduction targets for new trucks have been set at 15% by 2025, and at 30% by 2030, relative to 2019 emission levels. Manufacturers who fail to meet their targets will pay an “emissions premium” penalty.

These agreed CO2 targets are consistent with the original Commission proposal. The Parliament had called for more stringent targets of 20% and 35%, by 2025 and 2030, respectively.

The agreement compromised on the incentive mechanisms for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV). A “supercredit” system will be in place until 2025, where sales of zero-emission trucks will be counted multiple times towards meeting the CO2 target. The supercredit mechanism has been supported by truck manufacturers. From 2025, supercredits will be replaced by a “benchmark” mechanism—in effect, mandatory sales quotas for zero-emission trucks—supported by environmental groups.

Truck manufacturers whose zero-emission (electric and hydrogen) truck sales are more than 2% will be rewarded with a less stringent CO2 target. The agreement also includes a 2-tonne additional weight allowance for zero-emission trucks, to cover the extra weight of batteries and other hardware.

The 2030 target is binding, but the regulation will be reviewed in 2022.

The agreement was welcomed by environmental groups. The Transport & Environment Group (T&E) called it “excellent news for truckers and the environment,” but insisted that the 2022 review should scale up the ambition of the rules. According to the Commission’s Impact Assessment, the regulation will produce fuel savings for hauliers and businesses of more than €20,000 for a truck in the first five years.

For truck manufacturers, the regulation carries a significant business risk. There are no electric or hydrogen trucks in series production, the necessary charging and/or hydrogen infrastructure does not exist, and the costs and reliability of alternatively-powered vehicles are unknown. Hence, the business case for their potential future buyers remains highly uncertain. Experience with light-duty vehicles—which are more compatible with electric powertrains than heavy trucks—suggests that high penetration of electric vehicles (EV) is only possible in markets with substantial government incentives (such as Norway).

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) expressed their concern about the “highly ambitious” CO2 targets. “We can now only call upon member states to urgently step up their efforts to roll-out the infrastructure required for charging and refueling the alternatively-powered trucks which will need to be sold en masse if these targets are to be met,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert.

Source: Euractiv