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European truck fuel efficiency ‘unchanged’ over past decade – study

EU should set mandatory emission standards for heavy vehicles, ICCT urges

PHOTO: Heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for a third of transport carbon emissions in the EU, and their contribution is growing. Credit: Shutterstock

The fuel efficiency of new trucks in Europe has not changed much over the past decade, claims a new study, which calls for heavy-duty vehicles to be regulated in the same way as passenger cars.

According to a study released in Berlin by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the new tractor-trailer fleet in Europe is “likely to stagnate” with respect to efficiency technologies, and fall behind compared to American counterparts. Trucks in the US are set to become significantly more efficient and technologically advanced on account of new efficiency regulations driving improvements

The study analyses data from the EU commercial trucking market, and looks at key member states, manufacturers, and trends in fuel consumption.

“The real-world fuel consumption data we analysed suggests that the average fuel consumption of new tractor trucks in Europe has not changed substantially in well over a decade. With other global automotive markets progressing, the EU will need to move to mandatory CO2 standards to maintain its technological leadership in heavy-duty fuel consumption and CO2 emissions,” said Rachel Muncrief, lead researcher of the ICCT’s heavy-duty vehicle program.

Heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for a third of transport carbon emissions in the EU, and their contribution is growing. Seven member states (Germany, Poland, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, and The Netherlands) are responsible for approximately three-quarters of heavy-duty CO2 emissions in Europe.

The study recommends that the EU set mandatory emission standards for heavy vehicles, similar to those on passenger cars.

Like the US, Europe is increasingly leaning towards heavier vehicles and larger engines, as sales figures over the past decade indicate.

Given these similarities, the ICCT suggests that the same technologies entering the US market – like improved aerodynamics for trailers, automatic tyre inflation, and improved engine efficiency – could also be applied to new trucks in the EU.

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