Overview of the heavy-duty vehicle market and CO2 emissions in the European Union

Published: 2015.12.02

Heavy-duty vehicles represent only 4% of the on-road fleet in the European Union, but are responsible for 30% of on-road CO2 emissions. The EU’s current strategy for controlling CO2 emissions from HDVs focuses on market forces and developing a new certification and reporting framework. This paper is meant to inform that strategy by presenting current data on freight movement and HDV sales and statistics in the EU.

The approach used is to first gather the latest data on freight movement in the EU, HDV sales trends, and HDV fuel consumption. Key data sources are Eurostat, IHS Automotive, and Lastauto Omnibus magazine. The ensuing analysis is focused on key trends over the past decade, noting the effects of the economic downturn and recovery. The paper compares HDVs with light-duty vehicles and other modes of freight transport, then presents trends in real-world HDV fuel consumption. The bulk of the paper reports on the HDV market in the EU, focusing on the tractor truck and rigid truck segments. Finally, it summarizes differences and similarities between the EU and US HDV markets.

The analysis shows that the efficiency of tractor-trailers in the EU has remained relatively constant since the early 2000s. The key HDV types in the EU are tractor-trailers and rigid trucks, responsible for the bulk of HDV sales and fuel consumption in the sector. Assessing sales trends over the past ten years illustrates that the trend in the EU is towards heavier vehicles and larger engines, more similar to those being sold in the US. Five truck manufacturers, namely Volkswagen, Volvo, Daimler, PACCAR, and Iveco, dominate the EU market. Three of these manufacturers (Volvo, Daimler, and PACCAR) are also major manufacturers in the US market. Projections, based on existing and proposed US regulations, demonstrate that HDV efficiency trends in the EU are flat compared with a trend towards annual efficiency improvements in the US.

The share of CO2 emissions from HDVs is growing in the EU. The best available data shows that real-world efficiency of HDVs has been relatively flat in the EU for more than a decade. However, introducing CO2 standards could change that trajectory, as it is starting to do in the US market. Noting the many similarities between the EU and US HDV markets, it is likely that many technologies US manufacturers are starting to adopt (such as improved aerodynamics for trailers, automatic tire inflation, and improved engine efficiency) could likewise be applied in the EU. Next steps resulting from this work are to study, at a more detailed level, the baseline, CO2 reduction potential and cost effectiveness from available and emerging HDV efficiency technologies.

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