EU should mandate electric freight trucks by 2035, say Unilever and Maersk

The EU has been urged to mandate that all new freight trucks are zero-emission from 2035 by a coalition of 44 major firms including Siemens, Unilever, and Maersk.

In a joint letter to the EU Commission, the coalition writes that the deadline is “not just feasible but necessary” if the EU is to meet its climate neutrality commitments by 2050.

The target would also help to provide investment certainty for vehicle manufacturers to increase their electric and green hydrogen offerings, the companies write.

Major truckmakers have already announced that half of their sales will be zero emission by 2030, but binding rules are needed to ensure that investments and the ramp-up of supply happen on time.

In October this year, electric vehicle specialists Tesla announced that it would start production on a fully electric lorry with a range of up to 500 miles.

The firm first announced its intentions to produce such a vehicle in 2017, although it has only become a commercial reality this month.

The coalition says some niche vehicle categories, such as construction trucks, could be given until 2040 to comply with mandatory zero-emission targets. The EU Commission is expected to publish its proposal for new truck CO2 targets in the coming months.

The EU has already proposed an effective ban on fossil-fuel passenger cars by 2035 and new CO2 standards that will require average emissions of new cars to come down by 55 per cent by 2030, and new vans by 50 per cent by 2030.

Michelle Grose, global logistics VP at Unilever, said: “Decarbonising our logistics is crucial to reach our 2039 net zero goal. As a cargo owner, we’ve made some great progress on limiting our emissions through critical efficiencies and reducing how many trucks we have on the road, but as an industry we can do more.

“Together with our EV100+ partners, we’re sending a powerful signal to the European Commission, and the wider industry, to set all new freight trucks on a path to zero emissions from 2035 onwards. The solutions to decarbonisation are already here, but we need to scale up the supply of clean trucks.”

The coalition said that higher CO2 reduction targets for truckmakers of -30 per cent in 2027 and -65 per cent in 2030 will also be needed to ensure that the supply of cleaner trucks ramps up in the second half of this decade.

They say the EU Commission should resist calls for fuel credits to be included in the truck CO2 targets, as they would not help solve the emissions problem of heavy-duty vehicles and would mix different types of laws, undermining their effectiveness.

While trucks account for just 2 per cent of the vehicles on the road, they are estimated to be responsible for more than a quarter of EU road transport CO2 emissions. Road transport and heavy-duty vehicles are also one of largest sources of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution, which cause an estimated 350,000 premature deaths per year in the EU.

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