Trucks and buses (heavy-duty vehicles)

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Wednesday, 10 July 2018

What's changed?

More efforts needed

Emissions have grown faster for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) than for any other transport mode – 2.4% annually since 2000. On a positive note, more countries are implementing new fuel economy and CO2 emissions standards for HDVs. New policies in India and the European Union, for example, will increase policy coverage from 42% of new sales in 2017 to an estimated 57% in 2018. That said, overall policy coverage for HDVs lags behind light-duty vehicles.


Emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

Emissions from heavy-duty vehicles have grown faster than any other transport mode, mainly due to trucks.

	Buses	Medium trucks	Heavy trucks
2000	0.2876	0.4616	0.6573
2001	0.2923	0.4669	0.6627
2002	0.2984	0.4766	0.6745
2003	0.3051	0.4940	0.7064
2004	0.3100	0.5149	0.7553
2005	0.3121	0.5240	0.7855
2006	0.3152	0.5319	0.8248
2007	0.3293	0.5575	0.8704
2008	0.3422	0.5630	0.8905
2009	0.3374	0.5558	0.8883
2010	0.3410	0.5765	0.9434
2011	0.3412	0.5860	0.9863
2012	0.3501	0.6100	1.0441
2013	0.3481	0.6098	1.0705
2014	0.3471	0.6253	1.1156
2015	0.3498	0.6283	1.1388
2016	0.3349	0.6361	1.1299
2025	0.3421	0.6378	1.1809
2030	0.3384	0.5905	1.1669
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Since 2000, tailpipe CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) have grown by 2.4% a year, faster than consumption by any other transport mode. At the same time, energy consumption has risen by 2.6% a year. Trucks account for more than 90% of the growth in energy consumption, with buses accounting for the rest.

The main reason for this growth is that strong economic activity has boosted road freight transport by trucks and vans that rely overwhelmingly on petroleum products, pushing up the diesel’s share of oil-based road fuels from 38% in 2000 to 44% in 2017.

There has been significant action to reduce the growth in road freight fuel demand through green freight programmes (GFPs) and fuel economy standards. These complement each other as GFPs promote business and operational efficiency, and foster adoption of efficiency technologies and best practices, while fuel economy regulations set minimum thresholds for vehicle efficiency performance.

Since the flagship SmartWay programme was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2004, more than 30 countries have established green freight programmes or have joined regional or global GFP alliances. In 2017, Chile was the most recent country to establish a national GFP, Giro Limpio. Argentina has set up a road freight efficiency pilot programme and is currently investigating options for establishing its own GFP.

Share of global vehicle sales covered by fuel economy standards

Efficiency policy coverage for trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles lags 10 years behind.

	Trucks and buses (HDVs)	Cars and vans (LDVs)
2005	6	41
2017	42	80
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HDVs lag behind light-duty vehicles (LDVs) by about a decade in the share of vehicle sales covered by fuel economy and/or CO2 emissions standards. In 2017, the European Union and India made significant advances towards implementing fuel consumption and CO2 emission standards for HDVs. India’s new HDV fuel economy standards were published in August 2017 and will go in effect in April 2018, bringing policy coverage of new bus and truck sales up to an estimated 52%, from 42% in the previous year. The expected passage of HDV CO2 emissions standards by the European Union in 2018 will further boost HDV sales coverage by an estimated 5%.

While each set of standards will only cover a portion of the HDV fleet, and further work will be needed to ensure that the standards are as comprehensive and ambitious as possible, they are major steps towards ensuring that manufacturers of trucks, buses and heavy-duty engines with a wide global reach of new and used imports sales are covered by standards.

In the United States, Phase 2 Standards for trailers (cargo holds of heavy-duty articulated trucks) are scheduled to come into effect in 2018. These would be the first standards worldwide to regulate efficiency of this overlooked component of long-haul road freight efficiency. However, the EPA may be planning to delay or challenge the implementation of the trailer efficiency rules.

Finally, China’s Phase III standards are set to ratchet up the efficiency of new buses and trucks in 2019. The momentum in HDV standards may continue to build in other countries, including Mexico, which have begun to lay the groundwork for policy design.

HDVs technology adoption has lagged behind its potential due to various market failures specific to the road freight sector. The capacity for efficiency improvements, even in trucks using internal combustion engines, has been demonstrated most effectively by the US Department of Energy’s Supertruck and Supertruck II programmes. The current programme, Supertruck II, targets a brake thermal efficiency of 55% and a 100% efficiency improvement on a gallon per tonne-mile basis, and assesses the cost-effectiveness of various technical advances in engine and powertrain technologies and vehicle designs.

Typically the most cost-effective measures are the adoption of aerodynamics devices and low rolling-resistance tyres. Many of these options are not restricted to new truck purchases, but are also readily available as retrofits on vehicles in operation.

The Future of Trucks

Released: 3 July 2017

The Future of Trucks report outlines the ways in which vehicle efficiency technologies, systemic improvements in logistics and supply chain operations, and alternative fuels can ensure that road freight transport will continue to support economic growth while meeting key energy and environmental policy objectives.

Download the full report

Tracking progress

HDVs accounted for 25% of total transport CO2 emissions in 2000 and nearly 28% in 2017. The message is clear: for transport to get onto an SDS trajectory, policymakers must focus on curbing the fuel consumption and emissions of HDVs, and above all of road freight.

Fuel economy standards and green freight programmes are the two most promising policy instruments in the near- and mid-term to improve the efficiency of road freight services. In the longer term, it will be vital to gradually shift away from today’s near complete dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

A growing market for electric city buses, together with RD&D initiatives in alternative electric drive trucks, may herald the advent of promising new low-carbon and efficient technologies in the heavy-duty road sector.


Innovation

For most HDVs, the suitability of electrification will depend upon continuing energy density improvements and cost reductions in lithium-based batteries. But for certain operations, such as city buses, a market for electric drive is emerging because of its suitability for buses’ fixed routes and schedules, their frequent stops and municipalities’ ambitions to reduce local air pollution.

The unveiling of the Tesla Semi is only the most hyped example of a growing number of concept and prototype mid- and heavy-duty electric, hybrid electric, and hybrid fuel cell range extended models that are being designed, built and tested. Daimler’s eCascadia, Renault’s D Z.E. and D Wide Z.E., and Nikola One and Two will all compete with the Tesla Semi to be the first zero-emission Class 8 concept truck to attract large corporate fleet customers. Daimler's promise to deliver 30 Freightliner eCascadias to customers by the end of 2018 would make that manufacturer the first to deliver on putting all-electric Class 8 trucks on the road.

Demonstration projects of fully battery electric trucks, as well as of dynamic charging or Electric Road System (ERS) concepts, also continue to gain momentum, and the performance and economics of both the vehicles and demonstrations show steady improvement.


Updates to this page

  • 10 July, 2018: Added more information about zero-emission trucks in Innovation section.
  • 6 July, 2018: Updated Innovation section and added Future of Trucks report.