The European Commission has unveiled proposals to cut CO2 emissions from new heavy duty commercial vehicles by 15 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030, but finding the strategy to meet the targets will be a challenge for both vehicle operators and manufacturers, writes Malory Davies.
The targets are part of the EU’s third mobility package which also includes an integrated policy for the future of road safety; an action plan for the development and manufacturing of batteries in Europe; and a strategy on connected and automated mobility.
In a statement, the Commission said the CO2 targets “are consistent with the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and will allow transport companies – mostly SMEs – to make significant savings thanks to lower fuel consumption (€25,000 over five years).
“To allow for further CO2 reductions, the Commission is making it easier to design more aerodynamic trucks and is improving labelling for tyres. In addition, the Commission is putting forward a comprehensive action plan for batteries that will help create a competitive and sustainable battery ‘ecosystem’ in Europe.”
Transport & Environment, the sustainability campaign group, welcomed the proposals but pointed out that they fall short of the 24 per cent cut by 2025 that had been called for by a group of leading international businesses including Carrefour, IKEA, Unilever, Heineken, Nestlé, Geodis. Stef Cornelis, cleaner trucks officer with T&E, said: “The proposed fuel economy standards will save truckers money at the pump, cut our dependence on imported oil and slash truck emissions. But the Commission proposal means a lot of cost-effective clean technologies won’t be fitted to new trucks, which will result in truckers and the climate missing out on big savings.”
Christopher Snelling of the Freight Transport Association gave a qualified welcome. “Operators are already committed to reducing the impact of the industry on the environment, by lowering emissions, and improving safety for all road users, so providing that the EU’s additional requirements do not prevent lorries from doing the full range of jobs that our society needs of them, the new proposals represent a positive step for all concerned,” he said.
But even a 15 per cent cut will be a substantial challenge for operators and vehicle manufacturers alike.
What it takes to meet that challenge was highlighted by Scania last month when it launched a raft of new products including engines running on alternative fuels which can reduce CO2 emissions by varying degrees.
Its Euro 6 engines can all run on a mixture of up to 100 per cent hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO) and diesel – Scania says HVO can achieve up to 90 per reductions in CO2.
There is a new 13 litre diesel engine that runs on ED95 bio-ethanol that can reduce CO2 by up to 90 per cent.
A new 410hp 13 litre gas engine works on the Otto principle with spark plug ignition and can run on either CNG, which gives a range of about 500km, or LNG, which gives a range of 1,100km. Scania already has a 9-litre gas engine. Senior engineer Folke Fritzson says the performance of the engines is similar to the equivalent diesel. In combustion there is no difference between LNG and CNG.
Using natural gas reduces CO2 emissions by around 15 per cent, while bio-methane can result in a CO2 reduction of up to 90 per cent.
Electricity is increasingly being seen as the long term choice for motive power. Like other manufacturers Scania is working on both hybrid and full electric vehicles, but it reckons it will be some time before the technology is ready for large-scale application.
In the meantime it has also developed a new 7-litre SCR-only engine has been developed that give a 90 per cent CO2 reduction using alternative fuels.
Henrik Eng, product director, Urban, says: “Small diesel engines such as these which run on alternative fuels are an excellent way of tiding us over until electrified vehicles are a force to reckon with, something we expect to happen in the first half of the next decade. If, as a customer, you factor in the entire chain, including the economics and sustainability aspects, a combustion engine using an alternative fuel is clearly a stronger option here and now.”
The philosophy behind this growing array of technologies is to give customers options rather than trying to steer them in a particular direction. “Our aim is always to offer alternative options for all our customers”, says Eng.
New solutions to the problem of urban deliveries were high on the agenda at the CV Show in April. Hybrid vehicles as well as pure electrics were on display lead by Ford with its plug in hybrid which is currently being trialled in London. It also displayed a new last mile delivery concept involving bicycle couriers working in tandem with a van service using smart technology.
The company saw strong growth in the commercial vehicle market last year, selling 125,000 vans last years – almost one third of the total market.
The plug-in hybrid Transit is designed to have a zero-emission range of 31 miles and used the EcoBoost 1 litre petrol engine as a range extender. It uses a geo-fencing system that is capable of modifying vehicle settings based on location.
There are a total of 20 PHEV Transits being used for the trial which is being supported by a £4.7m grant from the government funded Advanced Propulsion Centre.
Renault had on show its new Master Z.E. which it says aims to be the perfect solution for urban last mile deliveries, offering a balance between range, payload and charging time. Orders are due to open later in 2018 with deliveries following in the winter.
This article first appeared in Logistics Manager, June 2018