Heavy-duty vehicles

Heavy-duty vehicles

As demand for freight transport grows, making the global fleet of on-road freight vehicles both cleaner and more fuel-efficient is an increasingly urgent task. Most heavy-duty vehicles are powered by diesel engines that, especially in older models, can emit high levels of particulates, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants that cause both chronic disease and premature death, especially in urban areas and among the most vulnerable populations. And HDVs are responsible for an increasing proportion of total carbon emissions from the transportation sector, as light-duty vehicles become more fuel efficient thanks in part to the pressure from farsighted regulatory policy. Achieving a cleaner freight transport system will depend not only on a similarly farsighted approach to regulating vehicle emissions and efficiency, but also on developing an effective model for systemic change that includes measures to shift freight to the most sustainable modes and optimize supply chain activity.

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About the program

As demand for freight transport grows, making the global fleet of on-road freight vehicles both cleaner and more fuel-efficient is an increasingly urgent task. Most heavy-duty vehicles are powered by diesel engines that, especially in older models, can emit high levels of particulates, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants that cause both chronic disease and premature death, especially in urban areas and among the most vulnerable populations. And HDVs are responsible for an increasing proportion of total carbon emissions from the transportation sector, as light-duty vehicles become more fuel efficient thanks in part to the pressure from farsighted regulatory policy. Achieving a cleaner freight transport system will depend not only on a similarly farsighted approach to regulating vehicle emissions and efficiency, but also on developing an effective model for systemic change that includes measures to shift freight to the most sustainable modes and optimize supply chain activity.

Policymakers can draw on a growing portfolio of measures to reduce climate impacts and local air pollution from on-road freight. These include voluntary measures, such as green freight programs or fuel-efficiency labeling, and mandates such as vehicle efficiency standards or exhaust pollutant limits. ICCT’s heavy-duty vehicles program conducts research to identify and promote cost-effective, technologically ambitious efforts across that portfolio of policy options, and contributes practical expertise to governments and other stakeholders engaged in designing, operating, and evaluating programs to advance the development of a cleaner freight transportation sector.

The chart shows the incremental cost versus fuel consumption reduction potential for long-haul tractor-trailers, relative to the average European 2015 truck. Heavy-duty vehicles produce about a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions from road transport in the European Union, and some 5% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. And their share is growing, as emissions from cars and vans decline in response to increasingly stringent CO2 standards for those vehicles. (See Heavy-duty vehicles technology potential and cost study)

Recent publications

Fuel consumption standards for heavy-duty vehicles in India

Synopsis of new fuel-efficiency standards for diesel-powered trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight of 12 tonnes or more that will go into effect beginning 1 April 2018.

2017.12.07 | Policy update
European vehicle market statistics, 2017/2018

A statistical portrait of passenger car, light commercial, and heavy-duty vehicle fleets in the European Union from 2001 to 2016, with emphasis on vehicle technologies, fuel consumption, and emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.

2017.11.28 | Report
China's first national portable emissions testing standard for heavy-duty vehicles

In September, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection issued the first national standard for portable emission measurement system (PEMS) testing of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). This regulation is a supplement to all existing requirements under the China V standard, and it requires additional on-road PEMS testing for new and in-use China V HDVs.

2017.11.15 | Policy update
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Staff blog

Scott Pruitt’s EPA wants to resurrect the dirty diesel

Additional NOx emissions from gliders under the Pruitt proposal would be 13 times what the impact of the Volkswagen fraud in the U.S. would have been had it gone undetected.

Staff