Heavy Goods Vehicles and CO2

Technical possibilities and costs of reducing CO2 emissions of trucks

CO2 reduction measures

ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers' Association) requested TML to conduct a study on CO2 reduction measures for the road freight sector. Following an integrated approach, the review considered measures related to vehicle engine efficiency, vehicle design, vehicle usage, road management and CO2 policy. The time horizon of the study was 2020 and beyond. Two driving cycles were considered: long haul and regional delivery.

The first part of the study was a literature review, after which a survey with the main European manufacturers of HGVs was conducted. Their expertise, along with VECTO simulations (Vehicle Energy Calculation TOol), was used to verify and add to the results of the literature review. Assumptions regarding the evolutions of legislation were made in agreement with ACEA.

For new vehicles, a fuel efficiency improvement of 15-17% is within reach by 2020. OEMs can contribute more than half of the improvement, with the greatest potential in engine efficiency improvement.

Note: due to the confidential nature of inputs, detailed results of the survey are not included in the published study.

The rest of the new vehicle improvement comes from other parties, like tyre manufacturers and body and trailer builders (aerodynamics).

When considering the entire fleet and normal vehicle usage and replacement rates (based on a 15 year vehicle lifetime), the contribution of these new technologies is limited, but increases as penetration rises. Most of the short term fuel saving potential lies in optimizing vehicle operation.


The proposed materials and methods are validated with a group of stakeholders in the European freight transport industry, and any new findings and projections that came about since the initial work.

The final report was presented to the public in February 2016 during ACEA's event "Reducing CO2 from Road Transport Together".

Scenario analysis

As a third step in the process, TML assessed the CO2 reduction potential of certain measures for heavy duty road freight transport, in case predefined conditions with regard to technological progress and uptake are met. The measures have been preselected by ACEA. Realistic and optimistic scenarios have been considered for the long haul (LH) and regional delivery (RD) cycles, under 4 mayor topics:

  • Operations
    •  EU wide introduction of European Modular System vehicle combinations
    •  Platooning
    •  Driver training
    • Load factor optimisation
    • Fleet renewal incentives
  • Vehicles
    • Semitrailer lightweighting
    • Low rolling resistance tyres
  • Fuels
    • Refuelling infrastructure for alternative fuels (particularly natural gas)
    • Liquid biofuels
  • Infrastructure
    • Vehicle-to-infrastructure communication
    • Road maintenance

The following table summarizes the results of this study. It should be noted that these potentials cannot be added up, as there are (sometimes major) interactions between the measures.


Scenario analysis report (2017)

Final report CO2 reduction measures (2014, amended in 2018 with 2030 projection on vehicle technology)

Validation report (2015)


15-18 November 2016, Kris Vanherle presented the paper Reducing CO2 Emissions of Road Freight Transport at the HVTT14 Conference, New Zealand



funded by



Tim Breemersch, Lars Akkermans


Tim Breemersch

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