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

Climate and air pollutant emissions benefits of bus technology options in São Paulo

Analysis considers bus engine technologies and alternative fuels that can contribute to achieving the 10-year and 20-year targets for fleetwide reductions in tailpipe emissions

2019.02.01 | White paper
Benefícios de tecnologias de ônibus em termos de emissões de poluentes do ar e do clima em São Paulo

A análise considera tecnologias para motores e combustíveis alternativos para ônibus que contribuem para o cumprimento dos alvos de 10 e 20 anos para redução de emissões de escapamento da frota

2019.02.01 | White paper
Second-phase fuel economy standards for on-road heavy-duty vehicles in Japan

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation finalized new fuel economy standards for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles as part of the government’s ongoing effort to reduce the country’s petroleum usage and greenhouse gas emissions. 

2019.01.28 | Policy update
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Staff blog

Benchmarking the growth of zero-emissions trucking

The European Council, Parliament, and Commission are currently negotiating CO2 standards for trucks, and in particular, on the thorny topic of ZLEV incentives. Will it be a benchmark or super credits? 

Staff

Senior Researcher
Program Director / Regional Co-Lead
Senior Researcher / Regional Lead