AN ALLIANCE of Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Scania, MAN, Volvo, DAF, Iveco, plus light commercial/van maker Ford have signed a pledge to phase out pure diesel engines and focus on hydrogen, battery technology and clean fuels, all by 2040, a decade earlier than originally planned.
They are also calling on governments to impose higher carbon taxes to disincentivise diesel trucks, and make new technology more attractive to operate. The industry is expected to spend about €50bn-€100bn on these new technologies.
The truck makers, under the umbrella of EU carmaker association ACEA, are working with the German funded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to consider the best technologies and approaches.
The pledge signed by the CEOs of the truck and van businesses also calls for widespread investment in energy grids and a higher tax on carbon across Europe to help drive the change.
‘If we can make this happen, we need to all work together,’ said Scania CEO Henrik Henriksson, who chairs ACEA’s commercial vehicle board.
The EU plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by the end of the decade and transport, especially by road, is the biggest producer of CO2 across the continent.
The UK has said it will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars including hybrids by 2035, and will consult on trying to end the use of diesel trucks.
Professor Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute, observes that freight is one of the most difficult areas to decarbonise: ‘It’s the backbone of any society in the world today, but we have to recognise that it is dependent on the internal combustion engines (ICE) to transport all the goods of every industry.’
While technologies such as battery electric systems work for inner-city delivery vans, long distance haulage vehicles still require diesel because of the need to charge and the weight of batteries reducing payload.
Hydrogen, which requires its own refuelling infrastructure network, is expected by the industry to be a more likely solution for the largest long distance trucks, while biofuels are expected to help cut emissions in the shorter term.
Henrik Henriksson added: ‘There is no silver bullet; it won’t be that one technology will rule everything, there will be parallel technologies over time.
‘They will come in different paces, but if we sit and wait for the perfect technology to emerge we will burn the planet.
‘Any of the changes will require significant investment in either battery charging bays or hydrogen stations, as well as electricity grid upgrades so the network can handle the sudden rush of demand for a fast charger on a large lorry.’