CO₂ reductions for trucks in the EU: balancing ecology & economy

The European Parliament votes next week on targets for the reduction of the CO₂ emissions of heavy commercial vehicles – a very important decision for our truck business, our industry, and society in general.

We advocate an environmentally, economically and socially balanced transformation process and appeal to all political decision makers to pass a law that is good for the climate, but also good for the economy, employees and society!

Maximum fuel efficiency has always been, and continues to be, a self-evident goal for our Company.

In recent decades, we have succeeded in continually improving the fuel consumption and thus the CO₂ emissions of our bestselling vehicles – to be specific, by 22 percent in 20 years. In this way, we are already making a contribution to climate protection that will also benefit our customers and improve our international competitiveness.

At the same time, we are working hard to put electric mobility for trucks onto the road both technically and economically – despite all the challenges of infrastructure, CO₂-neutral power supply and costs.

The draft currently under discussion and to be voted on contains absolutely unrealistic targets and massive fines.

If they are adopted, there will be a negative impact on investment and thus on the future viability of our company and our plants. The management and employee representatives have therefore together decided to participate in the public debate.

What are our specific concerns of the current proposal?

  • The reduction targets of the current draft – 20 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030 in relation to base year 2019 – go far beyond what is technically and economically feasible. We are working hard to put alternative drive systems on the road as quickly as possible, but despite all our efforts, there is still a long way to go to achieve that goal in terms of technology, infrastructure, customer acceptance and cost efficiency. These technologies can only make the contribution to reducing CO₂ in the medium to long term that the EU is already assuming for today at the currently proposed limits. In our view, an ambitious but realistic target is an annual reduction of approximately 1.5 percent for the next ten years.

  • Effective incentive mechanisms could further accelerate the market penetration of alternative drive systems and thus reductions in CO₂ emissions. We therefore regret that the regulatory proposal takes far too little account of zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZEV/LEV). The EU is thus setting the wrong priorities for effective progress with the reduction of trucks’ CO₂ emissions.
  • We are also concerned about the disproportionately high level of fines for exceeding the limits, which at 6,800 euros per g/tkm for trucks are about 30 times as high as for cars and light commercial vehicles. If a manufacturer of 50,000 vehicles missed the target by 10 percent, it would be fined 2 billion euros – this is out of all proportion to the profits achieved by truck manufacturers in Europe.

Here you find more information about the reduction of the CO₂ emissions of heavy commercial vehicles.

Florian Martens is Head of Global Communications Trucks & Buses.