Ten truths about electric trucks and buses

Lice-cycle GHG emissions

Battery electric trucks have the lowest life-cycle GHG emissions

This is true from 16-40t trucks, according to a study by Ricardo Research (2020), which compared emissions of the differing drivetrain technologies based on a WTW approach. The emission-saving potential of electric vehicles (EVs) increase when entirely powered by renewable energy (up to 81%) compared to a fossil-powered alternative as shown by study ICCT (2021) undertaken in passenger cars. As battery-eletric trucks (BETs) have outstanding energy efficiency, lifecycle emissions decrease with every additional kilometre driven, meaning that long-distance trucks have particularly high emission-saving potential.

Ricardo Research (2020)IICCT (2021)
Energy efficiency

Battery electric trucks offer a dramatic improvement of energy efficiency

BETs offer a dramatic improvement of energy efficiency, i.e. the ability to drive a greater number of kilometres on the same amount of energy. The JRC, EUCAR and Concawe (2020) have updated their joint evaluation of the WTW energy use and Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for a wide range of powertrain options. Considering only zero-emission technologies on Wheel-to-Well (WTW) basis, BETs using green electricity - both regional and long-haul - are 2.6 times more energy efficient than the green hydrogen-powered fuel cell equivalent. Although synthetic fuels were evaluated for cars rather than trucks, as an indication a battery electric car using green electricity is 6.9 times more energy efficient than a combustion vehicle using e-fuel.

JRC, EUCAR and Concawe (2020)

GHGs and air pollutant

Battery electric buses do not produce local GHGs and air pollutant emissions

Battery-electric buses (BEBs) do not produce local GHGs and air pollutant emissions, providing considerable health benefits, particularly in cities. Because they are powered by electricity, the higher powertrain efficiency means that BEBs emit 73% less CO2 equivalent than diesels, rising to 90% if powered by 100% renewable sources. In contrast (according to ICCT (2022)),Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) CO2 emissions are nearly 30% lower than a diesel, but its higher energy consumption - 24-50% per kilometre - reduces this advantage. In addition, methane is a potent GHG with a global warming potential more than 80 times greater than CO2 over a 20-year period; unintended leakages during extraction and transport further exacerbate the situation.

ICCT (2022)

BETs will contribute to the further greening of intermodal transport

BETs will contribute to the further greening of intermodal transport, as well as improving the overall energy efficiency of freight logistics. Synergies between rail, road transport and inland waterways are crucial to the logistics system. These offer benefits for the whole supply chain, as intermodal transport helps reduce congestion in urban areas while potentially increasing capacity in and around cities. Tangible examples of intermodal links have been successfully deployed in Paris’ metropolitan area. Companies such as IKEA and Franprix supply stores in Paris are using a combination of electric ships and electric road transport solutions for the last-mile segment.

Electricity grid

With smart grid technologies, the grid would need little adaptation for BETs and BEBs.

With smart grid technologies, the grid would need little adaptation for BETs and BEBs. Uni- and bi-directional charging enables a double optimization of the load at the depot. Optimising the grid connection and allowing the monetisation of the vehicles' flexibility capabilities makes them valuable assets, even when parked: it also provides the grid with supplementary battery capacity. Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is performed at much lower power levels than in regenerative braking or fast charging.


By 2030, 99.6% of new BETs will be cheaper to own and run than diesel trucks

By 2030, 99.6% of new BETs will be cheaper to own and run than diesel trucks while carrying the same weight of goods over the same distance and journey time, according to a study by TNO (2022). This study is based on the total cost of ownership (TCO), the most important economic indicator for a truck. It covers those deployed in urban and regional delivery over distances of 300 km as well as long-distance trucks travelling 800km/day. Due to the savings from using electricity rather than diesel, the cost-saving potential of BETs increases with every additional kilometre driven, meaning that by 2035, long-distance trucks will be the most cost-efficient solution in Europe.

study by TNO (2022)

Investment costs of battery elecric buses

Higher investment costs of BEBs offset by lower electricity consumption and maintenance costs.

Similarly, the higher investment costs of BEBs are offset by their lower electricity consumption and maintenance costs (in Spain and Latin America in 2021 and in Italy, US and UK by 2023). Bocconi University and Enel Foundation (2021) integrated well-known TCO (the initial investment in purchasing vehicles and the charging infrastructure, plus the operational and maintenance costs peculiar to BEBs) with circular economy revenue streams, by the second life of batteries and V2G. This explains why buses are now the fastest-growing zero-emission vehicle segment, making up 23% of new city buses in 2021, up from 16% in 2020. Considering the revenues from V2G and second life, BEBs are more cost effective than diesel and CNG buses.

Bocconi University and Enel Foundation (2021)

Urban and regional trucks can already have as much payload capacity as their diesel counterparts

Urban and regional trucks can already have as much payload capacity as their diesel counterparts today, according to a recent study by TNO. While the battery of an electric long-haul truck currently may weigh several tonnes, depending on its size, the so-called 'ZEV weight allowance' grants an additional two tonnes to zero emission trucks on European roads. This, along with improving vehicle energy efficiency and battery energy density, will eliminate any payload loss by the end of the decade, even for long-distance trucks with 800km range.

TNO (2022)


BETs already have more than sufficient range to cover freight transport routes in Europe

BETs already have more than sufficient range to cover freight transport routes in Europe, something that will continue to improve. With the compulsory 45-minute break every 4.5 hours, and given that they have a maximum permitted speed of 90km/h, trucks will never drive more than 400 km without having to stop. Tesla has begun deliveries of the ‘Tesla Semi’, a clean-sheet design BET with a real-world range of 800km when fully loaded. The EU’s Weights & Dimensions Directive allows ZETs to be increased by two tonnes over that of diesel trucks. This allowance alone already increases the payload-neutral range of electric trucks by over 300km.

Extreme conditions

BETs are as competent as diesel trucks in extreme cold.

BETs are as competent as diesel trucks in extreme cold. In February 2021, Volvo Trucks, ABB and Vattenfall - together with a local mining company - ran a trial on replacing the diesel transport of iron ore with BETs. The ore is taken from a North Sweden mine to the railway transfer station, in temperatures of -30C°. The BETs were used for the journey from the mine to the transfer station where they could unload the cargo while recharging batteries following a 280km round trip normally undertaken by diesel-powered vehicles. The Polar Winter Project proved the feasibility of electric transportation in extreme conditions. The BETs were able to drive the entire distance - including 140km with 14t of ore on board, at temperatures as low as -32C° - while taking the same amount of time as the diesel trucks.

BET       Battery Electric Truck

GHG      Greenhouse Gas

EV         Electric Vehicle

WTW    Wheel-to-Well

BEB       Battery Electric Bus

CNG      Compressed Natural Gas

V2G       Vehicle-to-Grid

HDV      Heavy-Duty Vehicle

LFP        Lithium iron phosphate

TCO       Total Cost of Ownership

ZEV       Zero-Emission Vehicle

ZET        Zero-Emission Truck

JRC        Joint Research Center

Our Position Paper on the revision of the HDV CO2 emission standards

CO2 Standards for HDV
Our position ahead of Commission's proposal

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The Platform for Electromobility strongly welcomes the revision of the CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HDV). The Platform sees the Regulation as a fundamental tool for electrifying trucks and thus advancing the zero emission transition within the road freight sector. Currently, this sector is responsible for 24% of the EU’s transport emissions, with trucks making up the largest part. The revision of HDV CO2 standards should align the CO2 targets for the sector with those of the EU’s overall 55% GHG reduction target in 2030 and the climate neutrality target of 2050.

In order to transition the road freight sector to zero emissions, more ambitious standards are needed to set the correct pace and a clear trajectory for manufacturers, logistics operators and for the supply chains in the electromobility and automotive industry. Scaling effects in production and technology development in the e-mobility and transport sector all contribute to making electric HDVs more competitive and widespread.

The Platform calls upon the European Commission to adopt the following recommendations as part of the revision of the HDV CO2 standards:

Strengthening the emission reduction targets to fully decarbonize the sector by 2050.

  • Almost all newly registered HDVs (including long-haul) should be 100% zero emission by 2035 at the latest, given the average lifespan of a truck of approximately 15 years.
  • An exemption should be considered for some niche vocational vehicles (such as those operating in remote areas or of abnormal weight) with a 100% Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) target by 2040, due to their more complex operational requirements and usually significantly lower mileage, which postpones the year of cost parity for the total cost-of-ownership for those vocational vehicles.
  • The introduction of an intermediary CO2 target in 2027 of 30% for medium and heavy lorries is necessary to accelerate the transition to electric trucks during the 2020s.
  • Strengthening the ambition of the 2030 CO2 target is crucial in providing momentum to, and further scaling up, the production and sales of ZETs. The 2030 target should be increased to an emission reduction level of at least 65%.

Extend the scope of the regulated HDV categories.

  • Medium-sized lorries should be regulated through CO2 reduction targets, with the interim target of 30% in 2027 and the 2030 target of 65%.
  • Small lorries – as well as urban buses and coaches – should have a mandated ZEV target, as they are not included in either the VECTO monitoring, or the datasets are deficient and hence have no CO2 reduction targets.
  • The Platform recommends including small lorries with a ZEV target of 35% in 2027 and of 70% by 2030.
  • Urban buses can decarbonise faster, and hence 100% of these should be ZEV by 2027. [1]
  • Finally, coaches will transition a bit slower – due to the different vehicle design – with 20% ZEVs by 2027, 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.
  • Trailers and semi-trailers will benefit from the introduction of energy efficiency targets, as this will unlock the deployment of zero-emission long-haul tractor-trailer combinations. The targets should be set where technically and practically feasible and as early as 2027. The full energy-efficiency potential of 12% for long-haul and 8% for regional delivery should be reached by 2030.

Other regulatory elements.

  • The zero or low emissions vehicles (ZLEV) mechanism should be transformed into a ZEV-only mechanism with an enhanced benchmark of 15% by 2027. After 2030, the benchmark mechanism should be removed.
  • The possibility of pooling of resources should be explored in the impact assessment, next to the introduction of a straight credit-trading scheme, which might allow for greater flexibility and less regulatory barriers.
  • There should not be an exemption for small-volume manufacturers, as it risks creating a loophole for continuing to produce ICE-powered trucks.
  • There should be no mechanism for renewable and low-carbon fuels to be included under this Regulation. Under such a mechanism, manufacturers could continue to produce ICE-powered trucks and delay the transition to ZEVs whilst not actually being able to control how fuels are ultimately being used (yet still being rewarded for it).

Ambitious charging infrastructure targets, as discussed in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), are elementary for a successful rollout of ZETs. In addition, private as well as public investments will be needed to ensure higher grid capacity to serve the growing truck-charging demand. The revenues from excess emission premiums should be channelled back into the sector for the rollout of the infrastructure network. Related files, such as the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) can act an enabler for a smooth deployment of electric trucks. The platform therefore recommends including infrastructure requirements for charging at depots and logistic hubs.

Investing in the reskilling of workers is essential, both for those currently employed in HDV manufacturing and therefore see a conversion of current skills, and new ones who will be increasingly specialised in the new production value-chain. It can reduce social risk and increase workforce resiliency. Other measures such as job-search assistance for jobseekers and income and early retirement support could make the transition more just and fair.

The positive effects of electrifying heavy trucks are far-reaching, and go beyond reducing Europe’s GHG emissions; accelerating the zero-emission truck roll out also allows for drastic improvements to noise and air pollution. The high increase of energy efficiency in the case of battery-electric trucks is particularly beneficial when road transport accounts for 29% of the EU’s final energy consumption. The Platform for Electromobility also wishes to highlight that the transition to electric trucks and buses provides a considerable opportunity for the European e-mobility value chain and the competitiveness of the economy. Ambitious targets would make Europe a leader in zero emission HDVs and thus accelerate the unlocking of the potential of the e-mobility value chain.

[1] UITP is currently still considering its alignment with this objective.

First feedbacks to the revision of the CO2 emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles

CO2 Standards for HDVs
Our first feedbacks to the Commission

The Platform for electromobility very much welcomes the Commission’s willingness to revise the HDV CO2 standards. The standards are a fundamental tool to advance the zero emission transition, as outlined in the European Green Deal and advance the transport sector. More ambitious standards set the right pace and a clear trajectory  for manufacturers and logistics operators. Hence, the revision of the Directive (EC) 2019/1242 is a needed and welcome step of the Commission to lower emissions from trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. The revision should align the CO2 targets for the transport sector with the EU’s overall -55% GHG reduction target in 2030 and the climate neutrality target of 2050. Importantly the HDV CO2 standards are the single most effective tool to achieve scaling effects in production and technology development, which contributes to making electric HDVs more competitive and widespread.

In particular, the Platform calls the European Commission to prioritise the following:

  • Almost all newly registered heavy duty vehicles (including long haul) should be zero emission at the latest by 2035, whilst an exemption can be considered for some niche vocational vehicles (such as construction trucks) with a 100% ZEV target by 2040.
  • The introduction of an intermediary target in 2027 is necessary to accelerate the transition to electric trucks already in the 2020s
  • Strengthening the ambition in 2030 is crucial to spur the momentum and further scale up production and sales of ZETs.
  • Crucially, no mechanism for renewable and low-carbon fuels should be included under this regulation

The Platform wants to stress that with regards to urban buses the revision of the CO2 standards should also take into account the demand-side targets from the Clean Vehicle Directive (Directive 2019/1161), especially when taking into account the purchasing of heavy-duty ZEVs for public authorities. The standards are an important tool to drive down the prices of buses of publicly procured vehicles, making them affordable for public institutions.

Lastly, the Platform highlights that the transition to electric trucks and buses is a considerable opportunity for the European electromobility value chain and the competitiveness of the economy. Ambitious targets would make Europe a leader in zero emission HDVs and thus further unlock the potential of the electromobility value chain.

Electrifying heavy trucks is particularly crucial in the wider context of reducing Europe’s GHG emissions as it makes up the largest part of the HDV emissions and allows to drastically improve noise and air pollution.

Investments need to be made for higher grid capacity to serve truck charging demand.

Our answer to the Revision of the Combined Transport Directive – Inception Impact Assessment

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Combined Transport Directive

Our answer to the consultation

Directive 92/106/EEC is the only EU legal instrument directly targeting combined transport (CT), incentivising a more sustainable operational model for freight transport. Nearly thirty years later, the effectiveness of the Directive needs to be improved as the freight market and transport have gone through considerable changes. Furthermore, the political context has shifted as well, with an increased ambition on emissions-reduction objectives deriving from the European Green Deal and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

The Platform for Electromobility agrees with the European Commission that, without an intervention to promote the use of multimodal transport, the uptake of more sustainable transport options will not take place to the desired degree and in the desired time-frame to reach 2030 and 2050 EU objectives.

Strengthening combined transport fits perfectly into the vision of an integrated and sustainable comprehensive mobility system. The role of intermodal terminals, in this context, stands out through the optimisation of the connectivity of the different modes, and incorporating rail, roads and waterway systems into the freight logistics chain.

Among the options envisaged by the Inception Impact Assessment, Option 3 appears as setting the most effective way to crucially improve the framework for combined transport in Europe. The extension of the support from today’s narrowly defined combined transport operations to all intermodal or multimodal operations, and the categorisation of terminals based on infrastructure and operational efficiency – both proposed also under Option 2 – would broaden the Directive’s scope and streamline investments for combined transport’s infrastructures.

Moreover, Option 3 foresees an assessment of the efficiency of the measures to support the attainment of the objectives of the revised Combined Transport Directive. This measure would  improve the reporting and monitoring conditions of the Directive.

Following this further, the Platform remains cautious about the viability of Option 4, which envisages mandatory harmonised support measures – such as a support to transhipment costs. Such proposal may open the door to state aid-related questions and be challenged across Member States.

The Platform for Electromobility looks forward to work with the European Commission to ensure that freight transport do not miss the decarbonization revolution and contributes efficiently to a sustainable, integrated and multimodal mobility system for Europe and set best practices for the world.

Our vision on the future of Eurovignette

  1. General Comments

Establishing a level playing field between all modes of land transport requires an ambitious revision of the Eurovignette directive. A level playing field across single market will then allow the development of a clean transportation system in Europe. Both rail and Zero Emission heavy duty vehicles ZE HDVs) will benefit from it, therefore reducing the impact of land transport on the environment. Revising the Eurovignette directive is therefore a necessary step towards 2050 climate objectives.

Two aspects of the new Eurovignette directive can have a true and significant impact on the deployment of ZE HDVs: external cost charges for air and noise pollution on the one hand, and improving the CO2-based tolling system on the other. Internalization of cost and an improved tolling system will significantly reduce CO2 emissions. The distance-based infrastructure charging coupled with CO2 differentiation is the ideal for incentivizing cleaner vehicles. Here external cost charging is crucial as well as the application of the “polluter pays” principle.

This reaction paper presents the Platform for electromobility’s point of view vis-à-vis the positions adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. Although ideally the “polluter pays” principle will be applied in all modes, the paper provides the realistic expectations of the electromobility sector to actors in the trialogue negotiations. This paper complements a precedent paper issued after the Commission’s proposal in 2017.