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.

Featured

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

Compliance pathways in the U.S. Phase 2 heavy-duty vehicle efficiency regulation

Explores some of the compliance pathways available to heavy duty vehicle manufacturers. Specifically, this paper develops hypothetical technology packages for certain types of tractor trucks, vocational vehicles, and trailers using distinct technology strategies compares cost-effectiveness.

2018.02.05 | Working paper
EU HDVs: Cost effectiveness of fuel efficiency technologies for long‑haul tractor‑trailers in the 2025‑2030 timeframe

Summarizes the potential in Europe of presently available efficiency technologies to produce fuel savings that greatly exceed the upfront costs of technology and maintenance, and evaluates emerging advanced efficiency technologies that offer even more substantial fuel savings and short payback periods over the long term.

2018.01.16 | White paper
Air quality and health benefits of improved fuel and vehicle emissions standards in Mexico

Investigated the impacts of updating three standards in Mexico to align with the international best practices employed in the rest of North America: gasoline and diesel sulfur standards, passenger vehicle emissions standards, and truck and bus emissions standards. 

2018.01.03 | Working paper
See all publications

Staff blog

Introducing Soot-free Transport

The truth is that we’ve had ready solutions at hand for the 15+ years that I’ve been working on urban air pollution. Today, soot-free transport solutions are ever more available, with manufacturers committed to offering them in key markets, real progress on fuel quality, and advanced technologies putting even more pressure on the older ones. The world is ready for soot-free solutions and Soot-free Transport is ready to provide them.

Staff