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31 December 2021

Europe’s heavy-duty vehicle fleet is light years away from electrification

The EU's 'Fit for 55’ climate and energy package requires all new cars and vans to be zero-emissions from 2035, but decarbonisation via electrification is far off for trucks.

By Energy Monitor Staff

Only six electric and 20 hybrid heavy-duty vehicles were registered in the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey from July 2019 to July 2020, according to data reported to the European Environment Agency. This compares with nearly 167,000 diesel or petrol-fired trucks and buses.

EU legislation currently requires lorry manufacturers to reduce average CO2 emissions by 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels. Those goals are due to be revised (upwards) in 2022.

Tough CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans are stimulating the production of electric vehicles, although globally this still remains far off what is needed for net zero by 2050.

Bruno Blin, president of Renault Trucks, at the inauguration of a 100% electric vehicle for the collection of household waste in Lyon, France, in June 2019. (Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

More than 20% of cars produced in Germany in July 2021 were electric, compared with 6.8% in March 2020.

Buses and trucks make up only 2% of vehicles on European roads, but they are responsible for approximately a quarter of the EU’s road transport emissions. Heavy-duty vehicles can be decarbonised through different means, from electrification – if that power is decarbonised – to clean hydrogen-based synthetic fuels.

However, a study by the research organisation TNO, commissioned by the Dutch government, showed that LNG-powered trucks can actually emit more than their diesel or petrol-fired equivalents.

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