The CO2 limit values adopted by the Council and the European Parliament for trucks pose huge challenges for the manufacturers. At the same time, the system of super credits for alternative powertrains is insufficient and unnecessarily complex. For many years the VDA has worked towards CO2 certification of heavy-duty vehicles which is relevant to actual practice, and undertaken a large amount of preparatory work. For example, tools are now available with which OEMs can determine comparable CO2 values.
Unfortunately, the CO2 regulation now approved specifies excessively ambitious targets for heavy commercial vehicles when it comes to reducing future CO2 values by 2030. It takes too little account of current technical and economic realities in the commercial vehicle segment. Heavy-duty vehicles are always used for business purposes and efficiency has always been the key argument for purchasing them. The OEMs have accordingly been continually reducing fuel consumption for many years. In the last five years alone, the CO2 output from new trucks has decreased by around 8 percent.
However, the new CO2 regulation ignores the situation on the commercial vehicle markets. The CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles have been set at arbitrary levels. The reference values are still unknown and will be initially determined in 2019. The regulation does not take into consideration the fact that commercial vehicles come with the most varied bodies for the most varied purposes, which in turn has varying impacts on CO2 emissions. The incentives for introducing low and zero-emission vehicles are insufficient. Alternative powertrains for long-distance heavy transport are not yet marketable on a large scale.
In practice, commercial vehicles with alternative powertrains cannot be used largely because Europe lacks coverage with the necessary infrastructure for charging and refueling electric trucks and those powered by alternative fuels such as LNG and hydrogen. Yet this infrastructure is essential for achieving the targets that have been set. Therefore the planned review process should take the potentials offered by synthetic fuels into consideration.
Better regulation should harmonize a balanced industrial policy with safeguards for employment. The regulation in its current form does not do this. It will result in huge risks for companies and their employees. The disproportionately high financial penalties in particular will threaten the existence even of major commercial vehicle manufacturers.