Commercial Vehicles

Electric truck initiatives take off in Europe & the USA


18 European companies and organisations have formed a coalition, the European Clean Trucking Alliance (ECTA), to call for the decarbonisation of road freight transport in the EU. A similar initiative is forming in the USA – driven by several states.

But first to Europe: Among the ECTA founding members are Deutsche Post DHL, Geodis, IKEA, Nestlé and Unilever. The corporations are calling for a “reliable” EU plan on how to decarbonise the transport of goods by road by 2050. According to their statements, the 18 member companies have a turnover of 325 billion euros and employ a total of 1.6 million people.

With the European Green Deal, the EU Commission has indeed drawn up a rough roadmap on how Europe should become climate neutral by 2050. The Green Deal also included the prospect of investments and subsidies for various sectors; the total volume could be in the triple-digit billion range.

However, the ECTA still lacks concrete measures and support programmes to enable companies to invest reliably in greener logistics with electrified trucks – because of changing demand and online trading, companies are assuming that truck traffic will double in the next three decades, according to their statements. The initiative, therefore, calls on the EU Commission to present a proposal for CO2 standards in truck transport within two years at the latest. The ECTA also calls for subsidies for road freight transport, subsidies for the construction of charging stations in depots and purchase subsidies for emission-free commercial vehicles. Besides, the truck toll for emission-free vehicles is to be reduced “significantly”.

Since the EU Commission is pursuing similar goals with the European Green Deal, the initial reaction to the newly founded alliance is quite positive. “With the European Green Deal as its compass, the Alliance can accelerate the move towards zero-emission freight transport for a healthier future and a stronger economy,” says Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the EU Commission and Commissioner for Climate Protection. However, Timmermans did not yet comment on the concrete demands of ECTA.

German Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer also has his say in the ECTA communication. “Climate change is transforming our world, and we have to tackle the enormous challenge it poses and rethink mobility,” said Scheuer. “For this purpose, we need a close exchange of ideas and experience in Europe. Here, the European Clean Trucking Alliance can become an important catalyst. I wish the Alliance a successful start.”

US States aim for emissions-free freight traffic by 2050

An initiative in the USA is hoping for a similar outcome: 15 states and the District of Columbia have joined forces to jointly promote the market for electric medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The goal is to ensure that all new medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles are emission-free by 2050, with an interim target of 30 per cent by 2030.

The states that have signed this Memorandum of Understanding including California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. These states account for around one-third of all truck registrations in the USA. At the end of June, California adopted its regulation, which provides for successively increasing quotas of electrically powered trucks, vans and pickups from 2024 onwards.

The states now want to set up a task force to draft a ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) action plan over the next six months. It remains to be seen to what extent this action plan will take into account the Californian quota system.

At the beginning of July, 37 companies and investors sent a statement to the 15 governors and the mayor of DC in which they signalled their support for such a commercial vehicle program. The signatories include PepsiCo, DHL, Ikea North America and Unilever.

With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany., (launch), (demands), (members),,, (PDF)


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