The EU Commission has left the door open in principle for internal combustion engines in its proposal for CO2 fleet regulation for heavy-duty vehicles, even though a significant tightening of the current CO2 fleet limits is planned.
"It is right to revise the CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles in line with the 'Fit for 55' targets. In the case of trucks, the EU Commission has avoided the mistake it made in regulating passenger car powertrains. The narrow ban on thinking and combustion engines has now given way to a more open space for technology and innovation. We welcome this," said Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Managing Director of the VDMA.
CO2 fleet limits
At least in the case of trucks, the EU Commission wants technological diversity to remain possible in the future. By 2040, the CO2 fleet limits of heavy commercial vehicles are to be reduced by 90 percent in three stages compared to the reference values of 2019: By 2030, the limit is to fall by 45 percent, and by 2035 by 65 percent. Previously, the CO2 fleet limits only applied to heavy commercial vehicles. They will now also apply to lighter trucks and buses, including coaches, with a 100 percent target for buses in 2040.
By contrast, the Commission rejected the inclusion of eFuels, which had been called for by many associations and institutions, including the VDMA. These synthetic fuels offer many important advantages over conventional fossil fuels. They can be distributed in the existing infrastructure and used in existing engines that still use gasoline or diesel today, as they are chemically equivalent to their fossil counterparts. The use of eFuels is CO2 neutral, as their use releases only the amount of CO2 that was previously captured in their production.
Need for renewable fuels
"To defossilize the transport sector, all promising technologies must be used. Renewable fuels are definitely one of them. It is incomprehensible that the EU Commission wants to do without the contribution of eFuels," explains Peter Müller-Baum, Managing Director VDMA Power-to-X for Applications.
The inclusion of renewable fuels in the CO2 regulation for heavy-duty vehicles would support the goals of the EU Green Deal. Nevertheless, it is hoped that it will send a positive signal to the value chain for internal combustion engines in Europe.
"A de facto end of the combustion engine also in commercial vehicles would have significantly damaged the know-how in Europe - but it is not only needed for the applications mentioned, but also for ships, power generation and mobile machinery."
In an open letter, 120 associations and companies as well as more than 90 scientists from the energy, automotive and environmental sectors addressed the EU Commission in advance of the publication. They called for the revision of the European CO2 Regulation for heavy-duty vehicles to recognize the decarbonization potential of sustainable and renewable fuels and to take these fuels into account for compliance with the CO2 Regulation for heavy-duty vehicles.