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European Commission sets out strategy to control CO2 emissions from trucks, buses and coaches

22 May 2014

The European Commission has adopted a short-term action to certify, report and monitor CO2 emissions from trucks, buses and coaches. With the support of a computer simulation tool, VECTO, the Commission intends to bring forward proposals for legislation next year which would require CO2 emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) to be certified, reported and monitored. The Commission called on the European Parliament and the Council to endorse the strategy.

When this legislation is in force the Commission ”may consider further measures to curb CO2 emissions from HDVs“. The most apparent option is to set mandatory limits on average CO2 emissions from newly-registered HDVs, as is already done for cars and vans. Other options named by the Commission include the development of modern infrastructure supporting alternative fuels for HDVs, smarter pricing on infrastructure usage, effective and coherent use of vehicle taxation by Member States and other market-based mechanisms. An impact assessment will be done to identify the most cost-effective options.

The simulation tool, VECTO, is based on an approach that covers emissions from the entire vehicle, including key components such as the engine, transmission and auxiliary elements like air compressors as well as properties such as aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance. This approach is not strictly comparable with that of the US and Japan. The heavy-duty CO2 rule issued by the US EPA in 2011 does not cover the complete emissions of each vehicle, but only the cabin and chassis parts, in combination with a separate rule on engine emissions. Japan has a fuel consumption rule with targets based on the best-performing vehicles.

This is the first step the EU has taken to address CO2 emissions from HDVs which are responsible for around a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU, according to the Commission. Without action, HDV emissions in 2030-2050 are projected to remain close to current levels.

Studies carried out while preparing the strategy suggest that state-of-the art technologies can achieve cost-effective reductions in CO2 emissions from new HDVs of at least 30%, said the Commission.

Curbing emissions from HDVs is more challenging than from light-duty vehicles due to the considerable variety of models and sizes of trucks available, which are customized to market needs and produced in much smaller quantities than cars and vans.

Source: European Commission