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

Recommendations for the proposed heavy-duty vehicle CO2 standards in the European Union

Puts forward a number of specific recommendations aimed at improving the environmental outcomes of the European Commission's May 2018 proposed initial standards.

2018.07.25 | Position brief
China’s Stage VI emissions standard for heavy-duty vehicles (final rule)

Summary of the China VI heavy-duty vehicle standards and a comparison with emission regulations in the other major markets.

2018.07.20 | Policy update
Costs of emission reduction technologies for diesel engines used in non-road vehicles and equipment

Evaluates the costs incurred by manufacturers of diesel engines used in non-road vehicles and equipment for emission reduction technologies needed to comply with increasingly stringent standards.

2018.07.11 | Working paper
See all publications

Staff blog

The EU must go further on CO2 truck targets

Increasing the stringency of the Europe's CO2 standards for HDVs would not only result in greater CO2 savings but also in a lower total cost of ownership for transport operators.

Staff