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What next? Road transport makes its case on decarbonisation to EU MEPs
EU | Strasbourg

What next? Road transport makes its case on decarbonisation to EU MEPs

20 Oct 2023 · Environment

EU road transport industry leaders, joined by their American counterparts, were at the European Parliament to outline why some legislators need to reassess their approach to CO standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

Marian-Jean Marinescu, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), hosted a roundtable discussion on CO₂ emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles in the European Parliament, ahead of next week’s vote in the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

MEPs and road transport companies and representatives – Ninatrans CEO Benny Smets (Belgium), Transports Chalot CEO Michel Chalot (France), Adam-Transporte CEO Christian Adam (Germany) and Blue River Manager Alexandru Păun (Romania), the American Trucking Associations’ President and CEO Chris Spear, and UPS Public Affairs Manager Chris Vanhoegaerden – exchanged views on pragmatic solutions to cut road transport’s CO₂ emissions without exposing the EU’s mobility networks and supply chains to unnecessary costs and risks.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “We made our case, based on the versatility of heavy-duty vehicles and the current, as well as near future, state of charging infrastructure and grid availability. The targets that some MEPs want to impose on the industry are simply not based on reality. It’s wishful thinking.”

“Heavy-duty vehicles are used for everything, from construction, car transport and time-sensitive food delivery to city buses, intercity buses and coaches. Such richness in diversity requires an open-technology approach. 

“Most of the seven million coaches and trucks on EU roads today have an internal combustion engine. A massive, sudden switch from the 1,500km driving range of 40-tonne vehicles to an electric vehicle autonomy between 300 and 500km under optimal weather conditions and much lower in cold weather will pose serious risks, especially given the lack of charging infrastructure and grid availability on main EU road corridors and in cities.”

What next? Road transport makes its case on decarbonisation to EU MEPs

Offering a global perspective, UPS Public Affairs Director Chris Vanhoegaerden said, “EU policies need to further facilitate the use of efficiency gains offered by longer and heavier heavy-duty vehicles. We refer to them as ecocombis. Two  ecocombis could replace three regular heavy-duty vehicles. Based on real-life UPS experience, this allows for 25% fuel savings and thus CO₂ reduction. These savings start as of the day one deploys ecocombis."

“We need the EU to support the cross-border use of these efficient combinations in the revision of the weights and dimensions rules. However, including high-capacity vehicles in the emission reduction targets at this stage would be a mistake. Zero-emission technologies for such large vehicles are still in the initial testing phase," he added.

The American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear brought the American perspective. He noted that the American infrastructure is nowhere near being ready for an immediate and massive switch to electrification. 

Chris Spear also highlighted that California’s very high standards for electric vehicles are doomed to fail and force the United States to go in two different directions: on one side, there’s California, on the other side, the other 49 states. 

“The transport operators here today shared their best practices, demonstrating the sector’s commitment to decarbonise. Road transport operators’ message ahead of the European Parliament’s important decision on this file is simple: set realistic targets,” concluded Raluca Marina.