In a potentially game-changing move, seven of Europe’s largest truck manufacturers – Daimler, Scania, Man, Volvo, Daf, Iveco, and Ford – have signed a pledge to phase out traditional combustion engines by 2040, focusing instead on hydrogen, battery technology, and clean fuels.
According to a report by the Financial Times on Monday, Europe’s largest truck manufacturers committed to jointly spend between €50 billion to €100 billion (approximately $AU80 billion to $AU160 billion) on new technologies.
The Financial Times report was confirmed by the European Union’s carmaker association, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), which said in a statement the region’s largest truckmakers had “concluded that by 2040 all new trucks sold need to be fossil free in order to reach carbon-neutrality by 2050.”
The ACEA explained that their new target of decarbonising the European trucking industry would be feasible providing that the right charging and refuelling infrastructure is built, and a coherent policy framework is put into place, including comprehensive CO2 pricing to drive the transition.
Along with a commitment to delivering emission free vehicles, these three building blocks are the core of a new policy paper published by the ACEA, deemed “crucial” and which “must be put into place simultaneously” for a decarbonisation of the sector to be effective.
“Climate change is the most fundamental challenge of our generation,” stated Henrik Henriksson, Chair of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board and CEO of Scania.
“At the same time, the raging COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the crucial role that road transport and logistics play to ensure that food, medicines and other essential goods are available to those who need them.
“If road freight transport is to maintain its role in serving society, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Not only are we convinced that it is necessary, we know it is possible and we are ready to make it happen. But we cannot do it alone; we need policymakers and other stakeholders to join forces with us.”
The roadmap and conditions for transforming the European road freight transport system was signed jointly (PDF) by the ACEA and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), which outlined several necessary steps that must be taken by the industry as well as regional governments.
According to the joint statement, “cutting emissions by a few percentages per year is not enough” and the commercial vehicle industry’s commitment to decarbonisation requires that “by 2040 all new commercial vehicles sold must be fossil free … a pledge that the commercial vehicle industry is making now for the first time.”
“Science shows us that if we want to avoid crossing dangerous tipping points in the Earth system, we need to act today – combining all available solutions to make a rapid shift to carbon-neutrality,” said Johan Rockström, an Earth system scientist at PIK.
“Zero-emission vehicles will not only bring down CO2 emissions, they will also further improve air quality levels – a factor of crucial significance for human health.”
New powertrain technologies are seen by the ACEA and PIK as a vital first step which they expect “will fast become the backbone of road freight transport.” With battery electric commercial trucks already hitting the roads in some markets, this will soon be followed by hydrogen-powered trucks.
The new commitment to phase out diesel in the European trucking sector follows on the heels of the European Union’s own plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by the end of this decade. At the same time, the UK Government in mid-November brought forward its own ban on the sale of combustion engine vehicles to 2030.