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Europe’s truck manufacturers conclude that by 2040 all new trucks need to be fossil free

In an unprecedented science-backed statement, Europe’s truck manufacturers have concluded that by 2040 all new trucks sold need to be fossil free in order to reach carbon-neutrality by 2050.

It will be possible to meet this target provided the right charging/refuelling infrastructure is built and a coherent policy framework is put into place, including comprehensive CO2 pricing to drive the transition.

To develop their roadmap to carbon-neutrality by 2050 at the latest, the CEOs of Europe’s commercial vehicle manufacturers, under the umbrella of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), have joined forces with leading scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

“Climate change is the most fundamental challenge of our generation,” stated Henrik Henriksson, Chair of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board and CEO of Scania. “At the same time, the raging COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the crucial role that road transport and logistics play to ensure that food, medicines and other essential goods are available to those who need them. If road freight transport is to maintain its role in serving society, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Not only are we convinced that it is necessary, we know it is possible and we are ready to make it happen. But we cannot do it alone; we need policymakers and other stakeholders to join forces with us.”

The joint declaration by ACEA and PIK outlines the roadmap and conditions for transforming the road freight transport system. Alongside investments by the commercial vehicle industry, this includes policy options such as road charges based on CO2 emissions and an energy taxation system based on carbon and energy content. A dense network of charging and refuelling infrastructure suitable for trucks is also crucial for the operation of low- and zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles.

“We are convinced that new powertrain technologies will fast become the backbone of road freight transport,” reads the declaration. “Indeed, truck manufacturers are investing heavily in new solutions, such as alternative fuels, batteries and hydrogen. Battery electric vehicles are the first zero-emission technology to reach the truck market and will be immediately followed by hydrogen-powered trucks. However, the shift to decarbonised transport and logistics must be driven by demand and affordability.”

A successful market deployment of zero-emission trucks will only be possible if a dense network of an appropriate infrastructure is rolled out rapidly. Although the roll-out of charging stations will demand great efforts from all players, it is the easier part of the puzzle. The main concern is access to electricity grids with adequate capacity. There are transport companies ready to invest in electric solutions, but the lack of grid capacity where they are based is making it hard, if not impossible – at least in the short term. Furthermore, zero-emission vehicles will not take off as long as diesel remains cheaper.

“New technology vehicles will simply have to become the better option, the preferred choice of transport operators,” continues the joint statement. “For this to happen, we need comprehensive carbon pricing which drives the deployment of zero-emission trucks and adequately reflects the total costs of CO2 emissions.”

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