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EU transport committee OKs new CO₂ incentives but ignores proven solutions
EU | Brussels

EU transport committee OKs new CO₂ incentives but ignores proven solutions

14 Feb 2024 · Environment

IRU welcomes today’s European Parliament Transport Committee vote on vehicle weights and dimensions. They confirmed key CO2 emission incentives, but, disappointingly, placed additional obstacles against wider use of European Modular System vehicles. 

The European Parliament’s Transport Committee (TRAN) has voted today on the revision of EU rules on vehicle weights and dimensions. The adopted text retains incentives regarding weight allowance and adds derogations for zero-emission vehicle combinations. 

IRU welcomes TRAN’s decision to allow up to six additional tonnes for zero-emission vehicle combinations as well as the 12.5 tonne allowance on the drive axle. This compensates for load capacity losses due to the weight of zero-emission technology, such as batteries, and eases challenges for weight distribution in road passenger and goods transport. 

The decision to back the use of longer cabins to improve driver comfort is also an important signal in the fight against driver shortage.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “Today’s vote signals that EU policymakers have understood concerns related to the introduction of heavier zero-emission vehicles and the impact they will have on payloads. 

“The TRAN Committee has sent a clear signal to the Council, where incentivising zero-emission vehicles remains an issue.”

Cross-border operations with 44-tonnes

IRU welcomes TRAN’s support to allow cross-border operations using 44 tonne combinations. 

However, the Committee confirmed the Commission’s proposed 2034 phase-out date, after which the 44-tonne cross-border facilitation measure will only apply to operators with zero-emission vehicles. 

As the uptake of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles is expected to increase, it is unclear how the necessary corresponding infrastructure will be deployed. Temporarily allowing vehicle combinations with a maximum authorised weight of 44 tonnes, and then banning them from 2035, does not provide legal certainty to the sector. 

IRU would prefer to see an evaluation of this provision in 2035 or 2040. At that time, the maturity of alternative fuel technologies, infrastructure availability and, most importantly, operators’ ability to invest, could be more accurately assessed. 

European Modular System 

TRAN’s support for cross-border European Modular System (EMS) use is also positive, but their support is unfortunately overshadowed by additional and unnecessary conditions imposed on EU Member States before starting trials, or deciding on their use either nationally or for cross-border operation. 

EMS combinations reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, improving transport efficiency as they consolidate freight from smaller commercial vehicles. The TRAN decision today is a barrier to environmental innovation in road goods transport and sets a bad precedence.

“Legislators should also look at proven efficiency and energy saving solutions that can boost decarbonisation immediately, such as more widespread use of EMS, instead of only looking at more difficult longer-term options. 

“It is shortsighted to impose additional barriers to the wider use of EMS and curtail innovation in road transport decarbonisation,” added Raluca Marian. 

The full Parliament will vote on the negotiating position for trilogue negotiations with the Council next month.