Europe to Implement Strict CO2 Regulations for Trucks and Buses Starting from 2030


European lawmakers have reached a final agreement to ban the sale of nearly all new diesel trucks in the EU by 2040, with the first step being a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2036. This puts pressure on manufacturers and infrastructure.

Heavy-duty vehicles, the second-largest CO2 emitters in European transportation (after cars), will gradually have to reduce their carbon emissions in the years to come.

On Thursday, European lawmakers reached a final agreement on a crucial law to achieve the EU's climate neutrality goal by 2050.

The law stipulates that emissions from heavy-duty vehicles sold from 2030 onwards must be reduced by at least 45% compared to 2019 levels, then further reduced by 65% between 2035 and 2039, and finally lowered by 90% from 2040 onwards.

Professional vehicles, such as garbage trucks and other utility vehicles, are exempt until 2035. Specific emission reduction targets are also set for trailers (7.5%) and semitrailers (10%) starting from 2030. This effectively means that the sale of almost all new diesel trucks in the EU will be prohibited in about fifteen years. Europe has already decreed the end of new internal combustion engine car sales in 2035.

The timeline for trucks is longer because the market share of "green" trucks is lower compared to cars.

Ban on Combustion Engines for Buses by 2035

For urban buses, the law sets a zero-emission goal by 2035, with an initial 90% reduction target by 2030. This timeline is longer than initially anticipated, which is good news for French municipalities that have invested in fleets using biomethane. These fleets will still be allowed to operate for about a decade.

While European truck manufacturers such as Daimler, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz Trucks have already taken steps to eliminate diesel within the next ten years or develop long-distance electric trucks, transitioning from diesel or gasoline to electric or hydrogen remains a complex challenge for an industry that invests long-term. One of the industry's major concerns is the lack of infrastructure.

Sigrid de Vries, the Director-General of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (Acea), is calling for "electric charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure, comprehensive carbon pricing systems, and significant support measures to enable transport operators to invest quickly." Without these measures, achieving the emissions targets would be impossible.

Acea estimates that to reach these targets by 2030, "more than 400,000 battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles must be on the road," and the EU "needs at least 50,000 suitable charging stations and at least 700 hydrogen refueling stations."

Charging Stations

The European Commission has already adopted regulations on charging stations, but these will need to be revised as they are deemed insufficiently ambitious.

Pascal Canfin, the Chair of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, "sees no major obstacles" to deploying charging stations for trucks. He believes that the key challenge now is to organize risk-sharing and deployment models while creating the right financial mechanisms for small and medium-sized transport companies to afford these zero-emission trucks, which are more expensive than diesel trucks. According to him, a "new legislative proposal" may be necessary to speed up adoption by large fleets.

According to the European campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E), the law gives European truck manufacturers "certainty to plan their move to zero-emission and compete with foreign electric truck manufacturers." However, the European industry faces competition from American companies like Tesla and Chinese firms like BYD, which benefit from substantial government subsidies.

T&E estimates that the EU's targets will result in approximately 30% of trucks sold in 2030 and at least three-quarters in 2040 being electric or hydrogen-powered.