Leading companies call for tougher EU truck emission standards

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Dozens of leading companies including PepsiCo, Heineken and Nike, are calling on the EU to set more ambitious emissions standards for trucks, arguing that more zero emission vehicles are urgently needed to reach the bloc’s climate goals.

In a letter to EU environment ministers seen by the Financial Times, 41 businesses argue that if the bloc is to achieve its overall goal of reducing emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 it is “essential for us that a rapidly growing number of zero emission trucks become available for purchase in the next few years”.

Nestlé and Maersk are also among the signatories demanding that the current target, which is to cut CO₂ emissions from heavy-duty vehicles by 45 per cent by 2030, is raised to 65 per cent. They are also asking for a clear date for the ban of fossil-powered trucks so that manufacturers “ramp up” production of zero emission vehicles. The average lifetime of heavy goods trucks in Europe is 18 years.

Trucks, buses and coaches make up more than a quarter of road transport-derived greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and more than 6 per cent of the bloc’s total, according to the European Commission, which proposed a revision to existing rules for heavy vehicle emissions in February.

That update is being scrutinised by EU governments and members of the European parliament ahead of negotiations between them on what the final targets should be later this year.

A document circulated among ministers this month by Sweden, which at present holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, noted that while member states had indicated initial support for the emissions standards, “views diverge, particularly on the level of ambition”.

The industry letter, which will be sent on Monday to members of the European parliament as well as ministers, is timed to coincide with a report by the Green EU lawmaker Yannick Jadot, who will present potential amendments to the commission’s proposed rules to the parliament’s environment committee.

Zero emissions trucks made up less than 1 per cent of new trucks sold in Europe last year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

The signatories also called for European regulators to extend the scope of truck types that are subject to climate targets to garbage, construction and urban delivery trucks as “these trucks are often easy to electrify” due to the short distances that they travel.

“We are ready and have started to buy zero emission trucks, but we need more in numbers and in variety,” the letter said.

Europe’s six largest truckmakers last year pledged to eliminate polluting diesel models from their line-up by 2040, but the challenges of decarbonising the heaviest vehicles on the roads are significant.

The weight of the vehicles and the distances travelled mean they have to carry huge numbers of batteries or recharge more often. That poses problems for a logistics and haulage industry that relies on minimising downtime and running cost.

Volvo Group, Daimler Trucks and Traton, Europe’s three largest truckmakers, have pledged to invest €500mn in 1,700 charging docks across Europe, but the haulage industry estimates it needs 50,000 chargers across Europe by 2030.

Hydrogen produced using renewable power is also being explored as an alternative zero-carbon fuel. Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group’s chief executive, said at an event with policymakers in Brussels last month that Europe needed more clarity “because that will bring innovation”, adding that the EU’s complex regulatory framework should be “coherent and aligned”.

This story has been amended to remove Ikea as a signatory to the letter.

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