Climate protection policy for heavy commercial vehicles
In addition to CO₂ regulations for passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles, the European Commission is planning to bring forward proposals for regulating heavy goods vehicles as well. However, regulation of CO₂ modeled on passenger cars makes no sense for heavy commercial vehicles because they start from a completely different situation:
- The diversity of commercial vehicles in operation is extraordinary (long-distance traffic, urban traffic, coaches and municipal buses, construction vehicles, etc.). Depending on the intended use, there are considerable differences in fuel consumption dictated by function (e.g.,: 1.7 l/ 100 tkm for long-distance routes, 5.2 l/ 100 tkm in urban distribution traffic, etc.). There is no such thing as an “average” commercial vehicle so that there cannot be an average/single limit either.
- There is scarcely a commercial vehicle that rolls off the production line “ready to go.” Instead, trailer and body manufacturers finish the vehicles to their customers’ orders, while the vehicle manufacturers do not always need to be aware of this on a case-by-case basis. At the same time, with an eye to weight and aerodynamics, the bodies and trailers have a considerable influence on the vehicles’ fuel consumption. There is thus no one single factor responsible for fuel consumption. Who as a consequence should take responsibility for a limit?
- Moreover, the driving force behind the heavy commercial vehicle market – other than for passenger cars – is purely rational. There is considerable market pressure on companies to reduce fuel consumption. With a share of around 30 percent, fuel costs are far and away the biggest single-line item in the long-haul road freight transport cost structure. That being so, transport companies, and thus the manufacturers as well, have a massive self-interest in HGVs that are as fuelefficient as possible.
Ultimately, unlike for passenger cars, there is no generally applicable test cycle for heavy commercial vehicles, so that currently there are not any recognized calculations of fuel consumption or CO₂ emissions either. Against this backdrop, the industry is actively supporting the EU Commission in developing a simulation environment that will enable heavy commercial vehicles’ fuel consumptions, and thus their CO₂ emissions, to be determined realistically and in a way capable of certification.
In May 2014, the EU Commission unveiled a strategy paper for reducing heavy commercial vehicles’ CO₂ emissions. The initial focus here is on measures for certifying, monitoring and reporting heavy commercial vehicles’ emissions. The objective is to create even greater transparency regarding commercial vehicles’ fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions and thereby increase yet further the market pressure for efficiency. The VECTO (Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool) simulation tool is to be used for this purpose. Other statutory measures are to be investigated in the medium term.
From a climate protection perspective, what is required for further significant reductions in road freight transport CO₂ emissions is an integrated approach including all stakeholders. It is of central importance to mobilize all those concerned – away from a purely vehicle technology approach to a comprehensively effective approach.
How to double the annual CO2 reduction rate
The European commercial vehicle manufacturers formulated their “Vision 20-20” as far back as 2010 with the goal of reducing 2005 fuel consumption levels by 20 percent by the year 2020 (annual reduction of 1.3 percent). The industry unveiled an even more ambitious approach at IAA 2014, including not just tractor units but the entire vehicle, together with fuels and operational measures, within a comprehensive approach. According to a study by the University of Leuven, an integrated approach such as this is capable of reducing road freight transport CO₂ emissions by more than 20 percent between 2014 in 2020 (annual reduction of 3.5 percent).