EU Parliament wants to allow higher maximum weight for zero-emission lorries

Following the Transport Committee, the EU Parliament has now also voted in favour of increasing the maximum weight and length of zero-emission trucks. This finalises the Parliament's position ahead of the negotiations with the Council.

Image: MAN Truck & Bus

Specifically, the maximum weight for zero-emission trucks is to be increased by four tonnes in order to compensate for the space and weight requirements for batteries and hydrogen fuel cell systems and thus create incentives to switch to zero-emission drives. While the Parliament was able to agree on this point, the EU Council has not yet agreed on its position. However, there is still some time to go: negotiations with the Council will only begin with the new EU Parliament after the elections in June.

In principle, the EU Commission put the issue on the agenda in mid-2023 and, in its initial proposal, spoke out in favour of increasing the maximum weight of electric trucks. The Commission argued that technological progress would make zero-emission lorries lighter in the future and therefore “benefit from an additional payload in the longer term”.

Since 2019, zero-emission trucks have already been allowed to weigh two tonnes more to compensate for batteries and fuel cell systems. The permitted additional weight is regulated in the directly applicable Regulation (EU) 2019/1242. However, the Commission and Parliament consider this to be insufficient to prevent the loss of load capacity.

As things stand at present, the Parliament also wants to grant diesel trucks the extra four tonnes until at least 2035 in order to take account of the harmonisation of the rules for cross-border traffic by revising the weight and dimension regulations. The proposal currently envisages that all 44-tonne lorries, regardless of the fuel used, will be able to cross the borders of the Member States.

This is a controversial point, as the environmental organisation Transport & Environment, among others, has commented. It warns that the legislator is giving diesel lorries a competitive advantage by allowing the same increase in weight. “While electric lorries in long-distance transport need the extra weight to compensate for the batteries, diesel lorries will simply increase their load capacity.” As a result, there is a risk that diesel lorries will make freight transport cheaper and electric lorries will be at a disadvantage.

The push to increase the maximum weight and length comes shortly after the EU paved the way for new CO2 standards for lorries and buses. According to these standards, fleet emissions from trucks over 7.5 tonnes and buses must be reduced by 45 per cent from 2030, 65 per cent from 2035 and 90 per cent from 2040.


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