Message from the Secretary General – October 2014

Commercial vehicle manufacturers are committed to driving fuel efficiency, working to meet their Vision 20-20 aim of reducing CO2 emissions from their trucks by 20% by 2020, based on 2005 levels.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is often erroneously referred to as the ‘car industry’ trade association. It is true that of ACEA’s fifteen ‘full’ members, twelve make cars – some exclusively so. However, ACEA also has a vibrant commercial vehicles arm, comprising seven manufacturers who specialise in building trucks and buses – vehicles that transport 18 billion tonnes of goods, or travel 526 billion-passenger kilometres every year. They move the European economy, ensuring that there are products to buy in shops, and that people can travel to get them.

The needs and themes of the commercial vehicle industry are also different from those faced by passenger car producers. Trucks – particularly heavy trucks – sell in relatively small volumes. In 2013, around 305,000 trucks over 3.5 tons were sold – versus 11.85 million passenger cars. No two of these commercial vehicles is alike: each has its own purpose, and each is designed and built accordingly. Urban delivery vehicles need to be able to stop and start easily, whilst also being manoeuvrable, while large inter-city 40 ton trucks must be able to travel long distances safely and efficiently.

The diversity of the commercial vehicle fleet affects the discussions about how to improve the vehicles’ efficiency and safety. The incentives for improving fuel efficiency, for example, are far clearer than in the case of the passenger car market. Commercial vehicle operators spend around a third of the cost of operating their vehicles on fuel alone, so even slight savings can have vast impacts on the bottom line.

This is why, in 2008, ACEA’s commercial vehicle manufacturers committed to an agenda called ‘Vision 20-20’. This aims to reduce the fuel consumption of commercial vehicles by 20% by the year 2020 compared to 2005. This is equivalent to an annual 1.3% improvement in fuel economy, with commiserate reductions in CO2 emissions. This is in addition to the 60% improvement already achieved in vehicle efficiency performance since 1965.

However, the industry is well aware than more can be achieved, particularly if measures could be rolled out to the entire fleet, which at the moment stands at around 34 million commercial vehicles in the EU. This is why at the ACEA press summit at the IAA in Hannover, held on 23 September at the IAA commercial vehicles fair in Hannover, ACEA’s commercial vehicle board members presented how they believe the annual potential reduction in CO2 emissions could be doubled through greater cooperation with all stakeholders.

Based on a new report by independent research body Transport and Mobility Leuven (TML), a 3.5% reduction rate could potentially be achieved. Data from the new TML study quantify for the first time the potential of such an integrated approach for the period 2014-2020 as follows: 6% reduction for vehicle-related measures across the entire fleet; 2.5% reduction through alternative fuels; and 13% reduction through operations. This translates into a more than 20% cut in CO2 emissions from the road transport sector over the next six years, or an annual reduction rate of 3.5%.

This new data – and the conclusions that it helps reach – have been well received by ACEA’s key transport industry stakeholders. It is the hope of the commercial vehicles industry that by applying this integrated approach Europe’s freight transport sector could do even more to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions across Europe and the world.